cooking in Italy
- Betty Jan 11, 2008 05:38 PM
We'll be in Italy for just under 3 weeks next summer and will have kitchen facilities in 3 of the 4 stops - 3 or 4 days each in Vernazza, Venice, and Rome. It isn't that we don't want to eat in restaurants, we will for sure, its just that on our trip a couple of years ago it made me crazy to see all that gorgeous stuff in the markets and not be able to take any back to a kitchen a play with it.
I'm assuming the kitchens will have only the most rudimentary equipment, but as long as I have a skillet and can boil water I'll have fun.
I'm wondering if there are any books youall would recommend I read about the markets. I'm reading "Paris in a Basket" (our first stop before Italy), so thought there might be something that would be fun to read and helpful about the markets in Venice and Rome. I don't need recipes particularly, just information about ingredients that I may not be familiar with, etc. We're staying in Dorsoduro and in Trastevere.
Not exactly responsive to your question, but - my extended family spent a month in Tuscany, in a villa outside of Lucca. Since dining out constantly would be ruinously expensive, I did a whole lot of cooking. Zenning your way through the markets, and letting inspiration strike through what's presented, is a good bet, but a few etiquette and other tips will benefit you up front, I think. First, as an American, we're used to launching straight into our business transactions with storekeepers and the like. WAY rude in Europe in general, please be sure to greet anyone prior to getting down to business. Also, in the Italian supermarkets (or smaller markets, even) there are generally ways to identify and price your produce before you bring it to the checkstand, so investigate that as you enter your first market type store. The deli counter is a delight beyond compare - find out how the line is formed and watch what the other people are ordering. Buy a lot of olive oil. In the meat section, you'll probably see things that will go into a mixed grill beautifully, and in the summer when the kitchen can become very hot, that's a great way to go.
I hope you have a wonderful time! Auguri!
Eating in Italy by Faith Heller Willinger is a good place to start. It covers Northern Italy so you get Venice but not Rome. The first section of the book covers Italian food generally and the entire book is a good read. I learned a lot, even from reading about the places I never traveled to. I had a kitchen for almost all the time I was in Italy and thoroughly enjoyed cooking from the markets. There are also stalls in most of them selling good housewares, kitchen tools, and linens. If your kitchens are poorly equipped, pick up a few gifts for yourself to use there and bring home as souvenirs.
Venice has beautiful glass and also the wonderful Rigattieri ceramics shop for beautiful serving pieces. Buy one fabulous souvenir for your table at home.
I could have stayed in Italy forever. What a glorious place!
re: Indy 67
Thanks all, great idea to gather cooking tools to carry home. I've had bad luck purchasing ceramics to have shipped home - the ones I got were the same pattern, but possibly seconds. I know a glaze flaw when I see one!
Yes, market etiquette is something I am looking for too. I'll order the book.
I was afraid the Italy board wouldn't be the right place since I'm not asking about restaurants.
No need to worry. Folks regularly post questions of the sort you're asking. Recently, we had a great thread about super markets -- not even traditional stall markets -- in Florence.
In Venice, you'll find a market near Campo Santa Margherita. Sorry, I can't be more specific than that.
re: Indy 67
In Venice, there's a few supermarkets called Billa and they have very good prices, suprisingly so for Venice, plus a wide variety of items/produce. There is one near the San Basilio vaporetto stop and one in Cannaregio that I know of.
Here is their website, but it's in Italian:
There is an outdoor market/carts on the Strada Nova, in the Cannaregio area. We were there last May and they had beautiful produce -- what I would have given to have a kitchen for all those beautiful zuchinni blossoms! Make note, that some small vendors don't like you squeezin' the Charmin -- the don't like you touching their stuff -- point to what you want and they will bag it for you.
You will find some minor canals will have produce boats selling their wares.
If you' re talking about Vernazza as in the Cinque Terre, you can purchase the mild Ligurian olive oil; not as peppery/grassy as you get in Tuscany. You could make your own pesto and toss it with the traditional Ligurian Troffe (tro-fay) pasta that is quite inexpensive, sort of like long skinny spatzle.
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