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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Grocery shopping 2019: quantity, quality and detours

Grocery shopping in Rome can be a pain - no 24-hour true supermarkets (no Wegmans - Buffalonians and Brooklynites). At the same time, it can be a great pleasure - as in, no 24-hour true supermarkets. We shop in open-air markets (our favorite, in Piazza San Giovanni di Dio, we've written about several times), mini-marts (ditto), the dying classic alimentari (small grocery/deli), and specialty shops. Among the pleasures we enjoyed in 2019, above - the incredible offering of wines under $3 in our local "super" (not at all large by US standards) market - and those above aren't the cheapest - you can also buy wine "sfuzi" - from a tap - fill up your own bottle, at even lower prices).

We also found this gorgonzola-by-the-scoop fascinating (photo right). The spoon and the amount of cheese is significantly larger than you can imagine from this photo. And, it's Euro 14.90/kilo, or about $7.50/pound - not that anyone buys a pound of gorgonzola at a time. At the deli at another not-very-large "super" market.

Part of what made our eyes pop is simply the quantity of what's being offered that one doesn't see in the US - the numbers of bottles of wine, the size of the gorgonzola, the multitude of waters (below), and the list goes on.

Left: in front of a Pigneto mini-market we found this list of prices for water - yes, that's all for different brands of bottled water (at least until you get to the Coca-Cola at the bottom). All selling for under Euro 3 (about $3.30 today) for 6 bottles of 1.5 liters each or more than 2 gallons of water. Romans still like their bottled water, even though the local water is quite good - though hard. Climate change may erode this practice over time.

Above, a small portion of the elaborate variety of desserts
at our local cafe'/pasticceria (Fattore) in Pigneto.

Left, enough salumi and prosciutto for you? (At a local, small market in Pigneto.)

It's not just food and drink.  Below, we found this plethora of "sfuzi" (unpackaged - bring your own container) laundry detergent at a local market:

Of course, you also can choose between 3 different kinds of asparagus (when in season) - at our old standby, the tin-shed open-air market in Piazza San Giovanni di Dio:

At the same market, we also could buy fruit and vegetables for the a single price/kilo - Euro 1.49 - by the way, that included bottles of wine.

Kiwi from Lazio
There's also the practice - likely an EU law, but also important to Italians - that requires the markets to label the source of all the produce, as in this Tivoli market (looks good close-up, but unfortunately seems like it's on its last legs):
Lemons from Amalfi

Tarocco oranges from Sicily "natural,
with leaves"

Melinda apples from the Trentino
(northern Italy); "offerta" = sale price

The alimentari (small, classic, usually Italian-owned and run, grocery/deli) near us in Monteverde displayed its dog food outside:

and inside was a photo of "Mama," who, it was explained to us, made the mozzarella:

Two more unusual presentations in 2019. One, a tiny stand that offered a plethora of baked goods from Ciociaria, a province near Rome noted for its food (and for the Academy Award-winning film, based on the book by Alberto Moravia, starring Sophia Loren, "Two Women" - in Italian, "La Ciociara" - the woman from Ciociaria):
"Ciociara bread- cooked over wood"
And, finally, we encountered - still in Pigneto - a street blocked off. The solution for which was one had to walk through the Todis grocery store to get around the block:

Yes, that's me, taking the detour through the store.

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