The Italian Open-Air Market
Food works differently here in Italy. OK, you know this already, it’s practically a stereotype. But it’s not just because everyone cooks in the garlic-rich style imitated by Olive Garden. Italy is lucky, it’s almost completely surrounded by seas and also full of farmable land; you can grow almost everything. Oranges grow along some streets here in Rome, and for that reason, you can buy two kilos of blood oranges for 1 euro at the open-air market.
We have one of these sprawling markets about 10-15 minutes away on foot, or maybe two or three stops on the tram (that no one seems to pay for). I’ve been to American farmer’s markets before, even green markets, but nothing I’ve seen compares to this. Bustling with little old ladies, the market is open 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day except Sunday. This itself is worth noting, because the D.C. farmer’s market is only open on Sunday! Of course there are supermarkets and corner salumerias (kind of like delis), but food at the market assumed to be cheaper and fresher than anywhere.
Of course, the result of this something completely the opposite of the US: food is a priority. Eating healthily is assumed, and preservatives and seen as unnecessary and counterintuitive. I spent a few days looking for
tubberware tupperware and then gave up; Italians cook when they want to eat and save little. America is getting there, but its still more cost effective to get fat, and it will be a long before that changes.