WanderFood Wednesday: How to Keep Your Dignity at an Italian Farmers Market
Italian Farmers Markets have their own etiquette – Also known as “Get your hands OFF the produce!” But yelled in Italian.
I love farmers markets. But, every country has a very defined set of rules for proper conduct that you ignore at your peril. In Italy – that sweet Italian grandmother minding the tomatoes will take your arm off if you touch one.
Here’s how Italian Farmers Market etiquette works: You see a stand of juicy ripe tomatoes, you say “Scuzi, voglio quattro pomodori per favore” (Excuse me, I would like four tomatoes please), and you let the person managing the stand pick out which four tomatoes you get and bag them for you. You touch nothing, and you definitely don’t point to the tomatoes you want. The first is considered unhygienic, the second is just rude. From their perspective, their profession is to know their produce and by pointing out a precise bunch that you want, you’re saying you know better than they.
Don’t Stop with the Produce
Italian markets have everything from fruits and veggies, to meats and cheeses, to olive oil, vinegar, breads and pastries. My husband and I had the best cannoli of our lives at the Testaccio covered market in Rome, during our Eating Italy Food Tour. Don’t miss out!
How to Order like a Local
Asking for four tomatoes is acceptable for us mono-lingual Americans. But you’ll get Italian street cred if you ask for produce, meats and cheeses in weight – “etto” (singular) or “etti” (plural) – 1/10th of a kilogram. When I was in an Italian grocery store in Venice, I asked for “un etto” of mozarella and the woman behind the counter looked at me like I was nuts. My tip, up it to at least “Due etti” and keep your ego intact.
“Per oggi” – if you’re eating those pomodori today, tell the grocer so he or she can choose the ripest ones. “Per oggi,” is “for today.”
Now go back to your apartment or hotel and make some Bruschetta (but you’d better pronounce it “Broo-Skeh-Tah”!)
Have you had a culinary culture shock? Tell me about it in the comments, and don’t forget to join the link love that is WanderFood Wednesday!
If you’re new, here’s how to join:
- Post a food photo or story on your blog.
- Include a link to WanderFood Wednesday in your post.
- Add your blog name and post title to the “Mr. Linky” form below, with a link directly to your post. That’s it!