Unveiling the mysteries of Italian grocery shopping



Today I had a shopping date. A nice couple who I’d never met but knew from Facebook, offered to let me join in on their weekly shopping round in Mercato Centrale, the huge covered market in Livorno.




I have been here many times, of course, but mainly to take photos, or buy the odd cheese. The meat and escpecially the fish scare me, since it’s all quite different from what I’m used to at home. The meat cuts are not the same, and most of the fish I have never even seen before. Plus my rubbish Italian is not quite adequate for this kind of conversation.
So I really welcomed some help.




We started outdoors, since many of the vegetable stalls are in and around Piazza Cavalotti, near the market. On a Saturday morning, it’s quite busy.




Some vendors are very loud, but my new found friends took me to their favourite veggie stall where it was nice and fairly quiet, although busy.




Then it was time to enter the covered market. What you see here is just the fish hall, a small part of the building.




These beautiful crayfish with “eyes” on their tails, are actually very much alive and kicking, or crawling, and should be cooked the same way as lobsters. That is, put them in a pot of heavily boiling water one at a time. And apparently, they don’t die silently.
Not for me, this food!



After purchasing some burrata (creamy mozzarella cheese) we went on to to this lovely lady for some local and organic eggs. She must be the oldest vendor in Livorno, at the age of 87-88 she’s still going strong! I chose the Montenero eggs, can’t get much more local than that, but they cost 50 cents each. I’m expecting a real treat for tomorrow’s breakfast!




The last stop was at the butcher’s. What has intimidated me up until now is the large chunks of meat lying on display, and having no idea what to do with it. And not being able to ask, since it’s all in Italian here.
But today I watched and learned. And then managed to get a beautiful piece of meat ground and formed into patties, or burgers, in this contraption. I also got a chicken breast fillet cut into thin slices, ready to sauté.
Next time I’ll go for pork chops and some sausages.

It feels like I’ve unveiled some of the mysteries of shopping in Italy. And with some practise, I won’t have to put up with the dubious supermarket meat anymore.




3 comments on “Unveiling the mysteries of Italian grocery shopping

  1. häpen med stora ögon och öppen mun says:

    Verkligen tur med vänner!
    Helt annorlunda än på stormarknad här hemma i Svedala – eller i saluhallen för den delen.
    Exteriört är ju byggnaden underbar.

    Di där kräftorna med stjärtögon var ju späjsiga, men för djuriga att äta.
    Hoppas äggen däremot smakade fågel!

    • CL says:

      Ja, och helt annorlunda än på supermarketen här! Igår lyckades jag, på alldeles egen hand, skaffa både ägg, salsiccia och en massa grönsaker. Både slaktaren och äggdamen kände igen mig och småspråkade lite. Känns som det riktiga Italien, det är såhär det ska gå till! (Och ja, äggen var de godaste jag nånsin ätit!)

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