The produce whisperer, or: Alex is a fun-gi.
Today we went to the open market, one of my favorite activities in Italy. You get up early, walk for about half a mile, and come upon an open air market filled with all kinds of produce, meat, cheese, bread, and random crap like fabric, pens, and really ugly socks that say things in English that don’t make a ton of sense. I LOVE THE OPEN MARKET!
Today, we took a bunch of pictures so I could share the experience. The producer sellers were more than happy to let us take pictures and hear me exclaim over their wares. Alex is usually the more excitable of us. In Italy, I’m considered downright calm. At the open market, though, it’s me that makes the scene as I pull Alex into an about-face so he can tell me what some odd-looking vegetable or fruit is. FUN!
We bought a bunch of stuff today. As in, the half mile walk home was kinda painful with all the bags. We bought fresh figs, fresh olives, moscato grapes, fresh currants, and some kind of fruit that is (I’m serious here) a cross between a persimmon and an apple. WHAT? Who thought of that?! We bought what I call “that sci-fi vegetable” that has a name, but it’s not anything we have in the US and I really just can’t be bothered to know the name of something I can’t eat year round. It is absolutely delicious with olive oil and anchovy paste. Really. It’s great.
My Italian still absolutely stinks. I say things to his mom like “Where is Ale gotten back?” Brilliant. But… I am starting to understand a lot more. I have developed the special talent to remember the names of things I will refuse to eat. For example, anything “crudo” is not going into my mouth unless it’s a vegetable. Prosciutto crudo? Pass. Prosciutto cotto (cooked)? Pass… the plate. So when the cheese Alex bought at the market involved the words “crudo” (raw) and “capra” (goat), I declared at the open market that I would not be partaking of the cheese eating. Alex bought some bland fresh cheese from cow’s milk just for me.
Then we had to double back because it is the end of the wild mushroom season, and we saw some prize-winners. As the stall owners quoted the price, I was too busy running calculations in my head to gag over the price. Everything at the open market is fairly affordable. The mushrooms were 45 euro per kilo. For folks like Carol and my mom who refuse to deal with my kilogram usage… that’s $30.00 a pound. We took home two. Two pounds, that is.
These are not your garden variety mushrooms. They’re not morels, and they’re not grown in gardens. These are the mushrooms we saw in Alice in Wonderland, the kind the Smurfs (oddly enough, known as Puffis here) lived under before they decided to have handy Smurf (handy Puffi) paint them. Funky fungi. Turns out they are also delicious fungi. Alex’s mom cut them into huge chunks (okay, small chunks of huge mushrooms) and fried them. I ate a big salad, a few mushrooms, a few olive bread sticks, and thanked the Lord for my fungi-finding guy who brought me to Italy.