Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To Market To Market

Produce from our local market.Like most of the good citizens of Rome we head out to our local market on Saturday morning. We have a large two story enclosed market on Via Libia - all the streets in our neighborhood bear the names of places in Italy's former African colonies hence the area name Africano - about four blocks from the apartment. Strangely its also the same building where I go to get my Resident papers processed. The area just in front of the market is crowded with temporary stalls selling everything under God's sun and there's a small park much favoured by Senior Citizens and their patient Filipino caregivers

Libia Market
The first floor is fruit and vegetables, the second meat, fish, cheese, breads, wines, clothing and sundries. Its noisy, its crowded and at first confusing; now we have the stalls we go to regularly where we know we'll be greeted warmly, our bad Italian tolerated and kindly corrected, little extras will be thrown in and a piece of cheese or one or two olives proffered for our tasting.

It is unusual to see two men shopping together here in Rome and we sometimes get stares from other customers. At first it was a bit disconcerting but now we just smile and say buon giorno. One Saturday morning when I went marketing by myself the Nonna (grandmother) at one of our preferred vegetable stalls was most concerned that "il aultro signore e ammalatto?" I assured her that Laurent was fine and we settled down to choose vegetables for the minestrone.
Fruit stallsOne of the great things about the markets here is that there is still a certain sense of seasonality to things. As an example figs - in September and October there were fresh sweet juicy figs from Italy, in November and December Turkish figs that were not as tasty and now there are none to be found anywhere. And we have a wide variety of choices - at the moment there are three types of cherry tomatoes available and which ones you buy depends on what you are using them for.

ArtichokesArtichokesArtichokesIts also artichoke season and there was a choice of five or six kinds. We asked one of the ladies to prepare six of the globe artichokes for us and within a minute she had them trimmed, acetated with lemon juice and ready to be steamed, sprinkled with Pecorino, breadcrumbs and parsley for Sunday night's dinner.

 Mauro's Cheese and Deli ShopA wide choice of olivesOur deli of choice is always Mauro's; the first time we went there the young lady in the picture was so helpful, pleasant and jolly we just kept coming back. And the cheeses, cured meats and olives are the best in our particular market. They also do some very nice antipasti - grilled eggplant rolls stuff with sun-dried tomato and marinated in a spicy olive oil is a favorite in our house. And the fact that Mauro is a bit of a hot daddy doesn't hurt either.

Fish stallsThere's so much available at the markets here in the way of seafood - fish, shellfish, eels etc. We still haven't gotten adventuresome enough to actually buy any. Neither of us are familiar with many of the fish caught in this area of the world other than Rumbo (which we have frequently at our local trattoria Lemoncini.) And though there may be 5 different varieties of eel available I'm not about to prepare them in my kitchen.

Our favorite butcher Meat, meat and more meatThe people at our favorite butchers' are more than happy to put up with the strange mix of Italian-French-Spanish-English Laurent and I attempt to communicate in. There have been times when we've resorted to pantomime - my attempt to buy a whole turkey rather than bits and pieces is still the talk of the second floor. And being Italy, of course, other customers are more than willing to get into the act - advise is freely dispensed on why you don't want a particular cut of meat or what you should do with the one you just bought. Unlike most of our neighbors we have a very large upright freezer - most Romans will buy meat in small quantities every day or two. We tend to buy larger portions, which must raise the unasked question about how many people there actually are in our family. I'm often tempted to wave my hand in an extravagant manner at our bundles and exclaim: Per i otto bambini (For the 8 little ones). And I think we get the odd stare now!

The market photos were taken by Laurent this past Saturday, February 23, 2008.

26 febbraio - San Nestore


Anonymous said...

Food, food! It's a good thing I eat before coming here.
How about writing an Italian cook book for dumb Canadians!

Doralong said...

It's a good thing I adore you so, because this sent me straight into seething fits of jealous rage..

I'll pay you back when the clime turns warm and old Mr. Claude and all the local farmers turn their goodies out.. It just won't be as pretty as where you go.

And of course the Nonna worried- it's what they do honey!

Man, I am so damn hungry now!

evilganome said...

I am consumed with envy. God! The food is so gorgeous. I can't help but think about what I could do in the kitchen if I had access to food like that!

Sling said...

Laurent takes excellent photos!
I love seafood,and would have to try and stretch my tastes in that area.Yeah,even eel.
Now all I can think about is enjoying one of our beautiful California Avocados.
Thanks for the regional market tour willym!

Speck said...

Ohhhh! I am stunned, awed, and jealous that you have such a bounty literally at your fingertips. What a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning!

Those pink tulip-looking artichokes (I'm assuming they are artichokes), what kind are they? I've not seen such a thing before.

Willym said...

Dayle: If you had seen the disaster that was Sunday's dinner you wouldn't ask me to write a cookbook on how to boil water.

Doralong: I want pictures of Mr Claude's produce - local markets are wonderful things. We had them back in Ottawa but I think here its the variety that gets me.

EG: Well you just get your lily white keester over here and we'll cook up a storm.

Sling: Avocados hmm..... now we don't have them here all that often and when we get them more often than not they are.... from California!

Speck: They are Romanesco Artichokes - they have an very different flavour and here are considered the best. They are served either steamed or fried and have a wonderful flavour.

SubtleKnife said...

Do you think my boss would mind if I drove down there? I'm already off sick anyway...

more cowbell said...

Wonderful photos! (thanks to Laurent!) Oh you've made me miss the markets. There were always little old ladies out on the fringes of the market, with a pressed tablecloth spread out, displaying a small selection of potatoes, herbs, flowers, paprikas, or what have you, from their home gardens. I always tried to buy a little something from them before heading to the actual booths. Lots of the vendors knew me and the kids -- the older ladies would make a huge fuss over the Male Offspring, him being more of a tyke than a young man at that time. They'd always slip the kids candy or some little treat.

The seasons! You're so right -- here you can get anything any time, but it all tastes diluted.

I love your photos and virtual tours, Willym.

Lorraine said...

I hate you.

(Did I say that outloud?) Oh, what is this I'm standing in? A puddle of seething jealousy, perhaps?