Thursday, July 2, 2015

To Market

Cheeses, hams, and salami from Abruzzo

 "Modena is on the blacklist.  No Modena for Mike!" ~ Chris Cutler

Modena and I do not have the best track record, and I swore to the second group that I was not going back there. Yeh, well, good luck with that.  Mike thought we should go to Modena today since it is a very short train ride and I'd told him the best thing about it was the market.

"What kind of market?" he asked me.

"Food."  The weekend market in Bologna and most other towns around here are more like flea markets than food markets. He didn't want another of those, but food was a good thing.  "It's also a daily, indoor market," I added since the temperature here has hit the 90s, and the humidity is about the same.  He was game.

We found the market quite easily since I'd been there before, and it was as good as I remembered.  The Mercato Albinelli has been around since the 30s and is open Monday-Saturday from 6:30 am until 2:00 or so.  In addition to the fruit and vegetable vendors located throughout the building, there are also vendors who sell fresh pasta, baked goods, meats, fish, cheese, wine, flowers, cooked items, and more.
Formaggio and milk

"Gosh, just walking through here makes me want to grab a peach and eat it," I said to Mike at one point. 

"It would have to be really cold," he replied.  Of course it would. Who likes warm fruit?

Apparently a bunch of people do because I noticed people buying fruit, washing it in the indoor fountains, and eating it right then and there.  (The European habit of eating and drinking somewhat warm foods and beverages is another topic.)

Selling fish
 A number of vendors had amarena (below) for sale.  My favorite gelato is amarena, a vanilla custard laden with amarene and amarena syrup.

"A question," I said to the vendor who was selling the amarena in my photo.  "Are these cherries sweet or tart?"  She looked at me as though I had committed a mortal sin.

"THEY ARE NOT CHERRIES" she snapped at me.

"What are they if not cherries?" I retorted.

"Amarene"  She was now looking at me as though I were the dumbest person on the face of the earth.

"Ok," I continued.  "What do they taste like?" The new look on her face told me that she really did think I was an idiot.

"They taste like amarena."  DUH.

"Ok," I insisted, "are they sweet or tart?"

"They're amarena," she snapped again. "They're tart...Sour.

"Ok. Excuse me." I exaggerated the pronunciation. Sorry I'm a stupid French tourist. (Another story, but apparently everyone thinks I'm French this year. I don't know if that's a step up or down from British.)

I ended up going to another vendor and buying Ranier cherries, strawberries, and the cuore tomatoes that I love so much.

 Let me point out that amarena are a variety of prunus cerasus (cherry). They are native to the Bologna and Modena area.  The Fabbri Company, founded by the guy who developed the amarena, sells all kinds of amarena products. 

(Side note: After I bought my cherries, I saw a nun purchasing chicken from a vendor nearby.  I went to snap her photo, and she turned from me.  I was quite interested because she had on the entire habit—veil, wimple, bandeau, black belt, scapular, cross, etc.  That's not something that one sees very often anywhere, even in Italy where a lot of sisters still wear a modified habit. 

She must not have been to upset that I tried to take her photo as after she left the chicken butcher, she walked by me , smiled, and said, "Buongiorno.")

Of course, no trip to Modena can end without some kind of mishap. We headed back to the train station, and I somehow walked past the street we were supposed to take to get us back there.

"Let me ask," I told Mike.  Now, I've said this before, but I swear that if Italians have no idea how to get someplace, they'll just give you directions anywhere and hope you find some other sucker to help you figure out there to go.

 "How do we get to Via Ganaceto?" I asked a shop owner.  She told me to turn left on the street we just passed, then right, then left.

We turned left and right and left and ended up somewhere else.  I stopped a lady pushing a baby carriage and asked, "How do we get to Via Ganaceto?" 

"Oh," she exclaimed, "it's a long street." She waved her hands back and forth.  I nodded agreement. "Go down here and turn left and right."

We went "down there," and I stopped. I didn't recognize the area, and I was hot, tired, and upset at being lost in that God-forsaken city again. I looked at the map, saw the street we were on, but at that point, I was mixed up as to where we'd been and where we were exactly on the map.  I saw the palace on the map, and I knew how to get to the station from there, so we just needed to get to the palace.  I walked into a beauty salon.

"How do I get to the ducal palace?" I asked.  The gal in there had no idea, so I showed her the map and pointed to the palace on it.

"OH!" She brought me outside, pointed down a street, told me, "Go down there until the street ends and turn right."  Unbelievably, the one woman who did not know where the honking big palace four blocks from her salon was was the only one who gave me directions that got me back on familiar ground.

 Long story short (at this point), we got to the train station by walking the one way I didn't want to walk—past the location where the guy tried to grab me last year. I did see the store into which I ducked when he was bothering me, but I was too hot and upset to take a photo.

Maybe I'll do that the next time I don't go to Modena.

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