"Buying food at the market always led to a barrage of questions,
How many people are you serving? When are you eating this? What are you serving to accompany it? What wine are you drinking with it? How are you cooking it?
Purchasing a piece of meat from the butcher is kindred to adopting a pet from the Humane Society; until he is assured that you will be taking proper care of the purchase, he isn’t going to let you have it. And with fruit, buying a melon for example, the first question would be,
When are you eating it - today, tomorrow?
And depending on my answer, the vendor would make a selection and hand me over a fruit of the appropriate ripeness. If my answer gave a date three days out or more, she’d look at me like I was joking,
Why would you come to the market today? Come back when you actually need it.
In addition to getting the meat, fruit and vegetables that exactly met my needs, my responses to other interrogations would ensure that I got the right kind of pesto to have with the bruschetta I was serving, and not the one more suited to eat with pasta; the correct amount of sauce to accompany the fresh linguine I’d chosen; and the best advice on the way to prepare, cook and serve all the things I’d purchased on any given day."
With this experience in mind we were excited to visit the markets in Italy for ourselves. They looked like a work of art! So many fresh vegetables: zucchini flowers, mini pumpkin, mushrooms, chillis, trays and trays of tomatoes adorned the vegetable stands; the aroma of herbs - dried and fresh - filled the air; cured meats and prosciutto stalls were piled with ready to slice hams and salamis; and fresh pasta was artistically curled up in the enclosed stalls. The fish markets had all types of sea creatures - some we had never seen before! We wished we had access to a kitchen so we could take home a bag of fresh groceries to cook, but alas, we had to make do with the fabulous Italian restaurants and wish that one day we will find markets like these in Sydney!
Reprinted by kind permission of the authors Nita Tucker and Christa McDermott