Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Fabulous Mercato S. Ambrogio

This morning I went to my favourite place in Florence. No, not the famous Uffici museum, not the Duomo and not the Ponte Vecchio. My favourite place in Florence has to be the Mercato S. Ambrogio markets.

Not only do these markets have mouth watering Swiss Cheese, fresh non-salted bread and homemade spinaci e ricotta ravioli but they are full of Italian atmosphere. Usually there are no tourists and the shop owners speak no English, so I feel like I am in the real heart of Italy in this place. There is my favourite smiling lady in the pasta shop who shouts 'brava!' if I pronounce something right in Italian, the cheese man who today let me taste a delicious parmesan and a smiling butcher who sells me veal and tells me I'm molto gentile (very polite). Me? Grazie!

The market is also always full of doggies accompanying their owners to the markets. A part of me thinks this is a cruel torture for the poor doggies who can see the proscuitto hanging. A week ago, I saw the most beautiful dog who also happened to be the largest dog I've ever seen. His owner told me he weighed 80 kilo's! He was drooling everywhere, but in fairness so was I at the sight of the pancetta I was just about order.

Today I also met a beautiful blonde Italian....his name simply Filipo...a golden labrador. His owner spoke perfect English so we chatted for a while and I got lots of licks and kisses (from the dog not the owner!!). By the way, Filipo and I were the only blondes in the whole market amongst an array of perfectly styled dark coloured Italian hair.

In another section of the market, the vegetable sellers are in full swing. I now have my favourites in particular the vegetable man who associates me as the 'shark girl' because apparently there are a lot of dangerous sharks EVERYWHERE ready to eat you in Australia! He also teases his neighbour that all the 'bella' girls come to his vegetable stall! (I don't have the heart or the knowledge of Italian language to tell him it's because his fruit is cheaper ha!).

A couple of days ago I made the mistake of asking him for basilico (basil) with the intention of making some bruschetta. By the look on his face, clearly this was a mistake. He told me that I must make something else as basil is not in season and why would I want to make something with unseasonal vegetables - good point actually. So, i picked up some seasonal zucchini flowers and lightly fried them in olive oil - bellisimo!

When we eventually move back to the small mining town Karratha in Australia where the vegetables are on a truck for two days before they get to the store, I think this is one aspect of my days in Florence that I will surely miss.

Tomorrow I will be swapping my pasta eating for snails and frog legs as we are going to Paris for Easter. I'm fully expecting my body to go into shock from pizza and tiramisu withdrawals. But when Tuesday comes I will be waving hello to the salami's, cheeses and my new friends at the Mercato S. Ambrogio.

No comments: