Friday, April 2, 2010

Food and Beverage--Italiano

This post is in response to a question from a friend in Oregon about what we eat, how we buy food and is everything old fashioned cute, or do we simply go to supermarkets.  We would like to answer that question, but we need to preface our remarks with a disclaimer.  Neither one of us is by any stretch of the imagination a foodie.  There are lots of blogs about food in Italy from people who know what they are talking about.  We are just here to tell you what we are eating right now—and we are sure it will change.  I am also deferring to Guido since he’s the cook:

We have little alimentary shops in town – 4 near us around the piazza and 2 others down the hill.
These shops have a small selection of produce, cheese, bread and meats, and general household items like soap, toilet paper and toothpaste.  Two are also macelleria (butchers) where I’ve bought ground meat for us and sliced meat to hide Vince’s large glucosamine pills.  One could easily exist in Santa Domenica without leaving and many of the older people do just that – some of these are the folks that give us the eye when we come walking thru town with bags from out of town!

Here’s one of my favorites for shopping.  Il Mercatissimo located in San Nicola Arcella nearby.  They have almost everything I ever need, no crowds and we’ll avoid the August tourist traffic by staying out of Scalea.

The small staff has already gotten to know me and was prepared to ham for the camera.

Fresh bread comes from 4 different bakeries in the area.  Only one has a retail outlet.  We have one in our town that we need to visit for a story!
Note the stacks of bottled water in most stores

I’ve heard that Italians started bottling water when towns started treating water decades ago – they didn’t trust city water and would only drink bottled spring water.  Many still feel that way and people walk away with 24 liters of water along with a cart load of pasta.

In addition to the local shops and supermarkets, Scalea has a great weekly farmer’s market for buying fresh produce, cheese, etc. It’s a nice experience.  We used to sell our organic produce at market so we will always feel a bound with these folks.

Here’s wild asparagus brought to market.  We tried it once and I overcooked most of it.  It’s also bitter to my taste but Di likes it better than farm grown.  I found domesticated asparagus at last Monday’s Scalea market.

Neither of us know much about cooking seafood, so we’ll move slowly before buying a salted sea bass!

This is definitely the season for carciofi (artichoke) and we are eating our share.  

Most of the vendors are within 75 miles and are pretty closely regulated.  I saw that even small growers with a table and umbrella still had to have an accurate scale and cash register that prints a receipt.

We enjoy eating out a little more than we did in the states, but are trying to get into the swing of how to cook at home here. Lunch at one and dinner at eight.  Here are some home meals:

I try re-creating restaurant meals at home and mimic their equipment for shredded cheese and a hot pepper/oil drizzle.

We also bought a mid level caffe machine that creates great espresso, or can run longer filling a larger cup with caffe Americano. Italians--like most people--love dolce (sweets).  Lots of cookies and cakes, especially for occasions like Easter.  Neither of us bake and we both avoid sweet foods, but it helps to keep something around the house in case the neighbors come over for coffee.

No one eats breakfast here, so we fit in.  An occasional English dish of bacon and eggs keeps the coronary arteries on their toes. Arturo here in Santa Domenica is good at getting Di the Coke Zero she likes and says that he can find me tortillas so I can surprise the neighbors with some enchiladas.

I’ll continue next time with tidbits about a couple of local restaurants.  That will include a current favorite lunch site on the beach where the sea colors yesterday were awesome.

Buon appetito, Guido


  1. "they didn’t trust city water"

    Given some of the scandals where mains water was heavily polluted with some seriously nasty stuff you can kind of see their point.

    I converted right after I got wind of what happened around here, where the comune KNEW the water was not fit for human consumption (a banned pesticide was present in significant quantities), said nothing and did not rectify the problem.

  2. Good point Sarah. The water here was actually off-limits for a couple weeks and the comune asked everyone to use bottled. BUT we would not have known without my asking a store why they had so much more acqua than usual. One of those word of mouth things that only certain people hear! It was probably posted someplace that we don't check. doug

  3. Out of interest did you know that the market traders just like all the shop keepers are obliged by law to give you a receipt?

    I was challenged by an inspector once and as the trader had not given me a receipt, he was fined on the spot! At first I wondered what an earth I had done, but luckily no blame is laid on the purchaser, though I think that used to be otherwise.

  4. Buon appetito indeed... I am italian but I am living in London

    .... I miss so much iTALIAN FOOD !!!

    happy Easter time in .... my beautiful country... bel paese!


  5. Thanks Clelia, Buona Pasqua.
    Linda, yes, we heard about the receipts. I am so used to refusing them that I have remind myself not to and still sometimes slip up. Di

  6. Ciao Doug e Di

    It all sounds so familiar to Santa Marina. All that fresh produce is to die for. After returning back to England last September it inspired us to grow our own veg here this summer. We too have learned to politely take the receipt, especially from the stallholders. Auguri di Buona Pasqua, John e Toni

  7. Loved the little tour of the shops in your village and of the supermercato. I think Italian food is the best in the world.

  8. Ciao, Guido and Di,
    I'm glad to find your site...I'm also 60 and am contemplating a move to Italy in the next year, but on my own. I'm not retired, but can work online while in Italy. I've been spending a month or two in Italy each year since 2006 and have made many Italian friends through a language exchange site: I'm fairly fluent in Italian. I meet with someone in Italy on Skype nearly every day. I visit them when in Italy and blog about my travel experiences.

    I look forward to reading more about your journey. Grazie mille for sharing!

    Lawrence, KS USA

  9. Thanks for commenting Loree and Marybeth...
    Marybeth, it sounds like you will fit right in here. I'm a more reserved person so it is taking me longer! Where are you thinking of moving? Che Citta?

  10. Not sure where I'll end up, but I prefer the small hilltowns, where noone speaks English. Most of my friends are in central or northern Italy, or along the Adriatic coast in Le Marche: I haven't seen Italy south of the Amalfi Coast.

    FYI: You might enjoy these interesting and helpful sites for learning Italian:

  11. How charming!

    Greetings from Brasil!



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