Thursday, December 2, 2010

Local Flavor

We all know Italy is famous for food, but today on the street, I found flavor of a different kind. This is just a sampling of the little morsels of local flavor, sometimes spicy, sometimes sweet, that I encounter on a daily basis. Enjoy.

Stop one: While waiting at the butcher shop today, the old woman in front of me asked for "macinato," ground beef. "Fresh," she said to the butcher, "like you." "I was born nice," he retorted, "but as I grew I got fresh, it happens..."

Stop two: As I approached my salumeria where I buy my cheeses, salami, fresh pasta, odds and ends, I could see Danilo the owner leaning over his counter, his face pursed into a serious scowl, his arms gesticulating madly, screaming at a small old lady who barely moved. I stopped the stroller outside of the store, hesitated before going in. He saw me, stopped for a moment and then continued his tirade. I waited patiently outside the door until he got it all out (he ended it with "Okaaayyy? Ciao") at which point I thought the little lady would be leaving, but she stayed put. I entered, pushing Roman and timidly asked for porcini mushrooms for a soup and cantucci to serve with my vin santo. He turns to speak to the woman, "Mamma," he says, "this lady is American but she speaks French to her son." Internal voice: "Oh my gosh, that's his mother he was screaming at! And she just stood there and took it??" Later he tells me they stole his motorcycle outside his house, and you know, "the motorcycle is more important than a wife," he tells me trying to justify his behavior and rage.

Stop three: Fruit stand. "Do you know where I can find fresh bay leaf?" "Bay leaf? Do you know what it is? It's growing everywhere. Just go and pick it behind the church."

Stop four: Caffè and cornetto (like a croissant) at our usual stop. This time Roman wants half my cornetto, and I oblige. In walks a grandma pushing her 11 month old grandson in a stroller. "How old?" she asks me, "14 months," I say. She proceeds to sit and spoon feed him a jar of bland, tasteless vegetables. "I don't let him have cornetto and bread, all these schifezze" (nasty things) she says. Internal voice: "You should see Roman eating his broccoli stalks and thai chicken curry cooked in coconut milk with sweet potato. Schifezze, my son?! Never. Just real food."


  1. brought a smile to my face-what a rich life you lead my sis! bravo.

  2. Ah, so reminds me of the time that I was able to hold my place in line when I was buying pastries on a Sunday in Bologna. The older Bolognese women in their fur coats didn't realize that I understood the system perfectly and spoke enough Italian to know when I was next.


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