Sunday, October 6, 2013

24 April, Cremona Wednesday Mercato

I slept too long this morning. It was after 9.00 when I opened my eyes. Marta had arrived with Baby G, left for school and Baby G was already napping. My focaccia was already warming in the toaster oven.

Marina and I had a nice conversation about food. I'm able to speak with her in Italian.  I'm not sure how many mistakes I'm making, but there is no language barrier between us now, which makes me so so happy.

We started talking about the piadina which Rosa and I made last night. She asked if I had ever been to Rimini.  She and Primo had the best Piadina there. It's a specialty of Emilia Romagna so it's extra good when eaten in its region of origin.  Some foods made commercially for sale in markets here, may look like piadina, but they taste not as good as the real thing.

We had a conversation about G who has a passion for spending as little as possible for bread. Marina has tried to no avail to convert G, that good flour produces good bread. Cheap, possibly imported flour, is used to make that cheap bread. Here is a man who has enough money to live comfortably, but insists on eating unhealthy bread.

Marina is a careful and watchful over the food she feeds her family. She points out the good health they have. Good eating habits and exercise contribute to this. I have observed this here first hand. One eats well in this home. We eat fully at the meal and no snacking takes place. I wish I could eat this way every day. It's difficult when one is gone from home 12 hours every work day.  Here I feel no need to snack. We came to the meal, hungry.

I told her I saw no tourists at the Mostra in Firenze and most Americans feel more comfortable eating restaurant food than trying street food. She was surprised because the laws governing food are so strict in Italy.  Meats must be labeled with place of origin, and includes precise details.

Also, by law, food must be thrown out the day after its expiration date. It cannot be given away to charities. The food might technically still be safe to eat, but the law must be followed. Food safety is important for Italians.

I've aways felt safe to eat anything here. If it looks appetizing, I will try anything (with the exception of horse meat, on moral grounds).

I still can't eat the normal foods I always avoid, such as peas and liver.

Wednesdays are always Mercato days. The entire area around two piazzas are setup with vendors' tables and in some cases, traveling fresh food stands. I started in the Piazza Stradivari.  




I walked from 10.30 to 12.45, taking pictures and looking. Yes, there is a lot of junk but occasionally one can find a bargain. I bought my son high quality Italian cotton socks. 3 for 5€

I found a cute cotton shirt, gray front, polka dots back) for 10€ and I was happy with it when I tried in on at home. Some stands do have a place one can try on with privacy. I wove my way through the market, ending up behind the Baptistry, where the cheese and salami trucks are parked. The stand which sells roasted chicken and meats was sold out of everything except French fries and calamari. I did read something I hadn't noticed. French fried olives. 1 etto for 1 €. They looked so good I bought an etto, which consisted of about a dozen pieces. Yumm. So good. I'm going to want more of these!  I cut one in half to see exactly what's inside. It's a seeded large green olive, stuffed with ground pork and dipped in batter and fried.

I reached the flower section last .  Plant and flower vendors take up the entire Piazza del Comune in front of the cathedral. I went looking for hot pepper plants, but couldn't find any. I smelled the freesia before I saw them. Huge bouquets...about the size of 20 Trader Joes freesia stems.  I bought three gigantic bouquets and took them home.  One each for Marina, Marta and Rosa. Fresh and fragrant, they will be bringing spring indoors to three different houses.

This is what has been leading the news;

'ROME (Reuters) - Italy's president held urgent talks on Tuesday aimed at naming a prime minister to head a coalition government backed by the rival parties on the center-left and center-right and end two months of post-election stalemate.

At the election the center-left narrowly won a majority in the lower house but failed to win control of the Senate.

Whether the new prime minister is Renzi, Amato or a surprise third figure, he is likely to forge a multi-party cabinet to take over from the technocrat government of Monti, who was appointed in late 2011.

Its inability since February to cut a deal with either Berlusconi's center-right or the shock new third force of Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has left the country in limbo."

For lunch today we had polenta, chicken in light tomatoes and onion sauce and salad. I'm allergic to corn so I only had a tablespoon of polenta. This region (Piemonte) is famous for eating polenta. Marina brought out some cheese, sweet gorgonzola. With part of a bread roll, delicious. I always follow the bread rule. Only pull off as much as you can eat at that moment, then out the bread back onto the table.

For dessert we had fresh strawberries.

At 2 we sat to watch their favorite soap opera from Argentina.  Now, Marta downloads the episodes to the computer and they view when they can. With a baby, flexibly keeps everyone happy.

After everyone dozed off, I continued watching TV alone. I still can't understand TV. They speak too fast. I can catch the meaning, sometimes. It seems that now I can understand Marina best. I think the family has decided I'm going to only be thinking in Italian this week. I love it, but it doesn't seem fair to not then practice their English. I'm being immersed.

Later in the afternoon, we put Baby G in the carriage and walked a long distance. We were supposed to be accompanying Marina to a doctor appointment, but she pulled out ahead of us, not wanted to be late. I never get tired walking here. I can and do walk die hours, loving every minute. 

During our walk, we stopped and got gelato.  Babies here cannot eat gelato until they are a year old. The same for honey.  I had one scoop of amarena and one of chocolate rum.  I need to get the name of it from Marta. I was too busy eating mine to notice what flavors she had.

We stopped at an appliance store to look at ovens. Marta and Mario have bought an apartment.  They have ordered an American refrigerator. But the stove will be 100% Italian. It has a pizza stone built into the oven. Amazing. I also saw an amazing washing machine.

Primo met us with the car and we all left together to visit MediaWorld. Marta needs a new phone.

The days here just seem to go on forever! For dinner, Rosa fixed Pasta with Aglio e pepperocini followed by bread with mortadella and prosciutto.

We cleaned up at 9.00 and everyone retired. Everyone except Mattia, who had a long day at work and won't be home until 11.

Tomorrow is a holiday. Liberation Day. I need to set my alarm and not sleep in! 

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