August 26, 2010

Daily life : Numero Uno : Food Markets

I have told myself I will never wait a full year to come back to the United States. It's just too long to be away from family, friends and "comfortability". So many of us move to Italy because we are searching for something new, something interesting, new loves, new experiences, new intrigue. What we  don't expect are all the little things that make our countries so different. The day to day living that you might not notice as a tourist. No country is better than another, but the fact of the matter is, we are different: and that is what makes each one special. I am starting a ten part blog here about the differences I have found over the last 12 months while living in Florence:

Let's start with eating fresh food first. Food is a major part of the culture in Italy, they live by it. It is a ritual to go to the fresh market daily to get all your ingredients, talk to all the vendors, carefully selecting which fresh pasta, cheese, vegetables you want for the next few days. The food here does not have preservatives, like all the food in the US, so you have to go more frequently to the market. But who wouldn't want to take a few hours out of each day to stroll to the market, right? For me, it is a much better experience compared to how I grocery shopped in Atlanta. I avoided grocery shopping, plain & simple. Large stores like Kroger and Walmart freak me out.  I would wait so long and then got everything all at once, spending hundreds of dollars, and carting it back by car to my house. Not here in Florence! I take my small rolley handbag, head to the market, pick up what I need for the few days ahead. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I still do not know how to cook properly, but I have a friend in Florence that is going to teach me how to cook the best Italian vegetarian meals. I am looking forward to that!

Sant'Ambrogio Market, Florence, Italy

American grocery store, Pasta aisle
Now, keep in mind that one of the biggest differences is this: TIME. To get all your fresh goodies, you need to be mindful of the time. The markets are only open from 7am-2pm daily, closed on Sundays. This compares to how easy and accessible it is in the US to get food anytime. Where the grocery stores are open 24/7. I still think there is a happy medium here between working non-stop, as the Americans do, or having inconvenient hours open, like the Italians do.  My dream would be if there was a market in Florence open until at least 7pm, like most of the other shops, that way I could pick up my dinner on the way home from work. The reason that would not work is it would be impossible to have "siesta" in the middle of the afternoon. More to come on that topic next....... Buon appetito! 

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