Al Mercato

Shopping at a mercato all'aperto, open market, in Italy is an incredible experience well worth enjoying. They are typically found in most residential areas. The mercatino are set up early in the morning from well-equipped vans. While some return on scheduled days, others may move on to the next paese. In any case, it is best to arrive early with several large shopping bags and to be prepared to find unexpected surprises on the open stalls. It does help to get to know the vendors who will often recommend the freshest choices of the day.

Let's start with some fresh gnocchi (fig. 1) after having picked up some antipasto di olive (fig. 2). Next, a half-pound of prosciutto and some other salamini (figs. 3,4) cannot be forgotten, as well as a nice chunk of mouth-watering parmiggiano reggiano (fig. 5) before we finally reach the local wine vendor (figs. 6,7).

The pasta selections can be at times overwhelming and definitively tempting (fig. 8), but not as much as the stalls overflowing with mozzarella, fresh ricotta and a multitude of formaggi (fig. 9)!

Some pane and perhaps a little taste of sweets (fig. 10) are obviously necessary for a basic Italian meal. Shrimps, sole and other kinds of fish (fig. 11) could be a bit more difficult to locate if you are not nearby a sea town, however modern refrigeration techniques and well-organized fishmongers are now able to supply any market as needed.

Italians love their vegetables (fig. 12) as well as seasonal fruits (fig. 13) and, finally, a good supply of garlic and pepperoncini (fig. 14) is always handy in the kitchen.

I hope I succeeded in stimulating your eye and, perhaps, your appetite with this brief excursion throughout a typical Italian mercato all'aperto. The challenge now is not as much to find all these wonderful foods, but to prepare a delicious pranzo to keep all your memories alive.

Buon appetito!

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