May 19, 2006

Shop Local... Eye Candy

In my cooking classes in Florence, Italy where I moved in 1984, there was no other way to shop than daily... and local.

Florence has two fixed market places, built in the late 1800's when Florence was made the capital of united Italy. The Central Market, which is right outside my kitchen-studio window, is a two story huge building, resembling a French train station and the smaller but similar San Ambrogio market near Cibreo Restaurant in the Santa Croce area.

Each morning I open the windows for a peek at what the market has to offer, and am inspired to shop as soon as possible to not miss out on seasonal specialites.
As often is the case, I shop first with my eyes, and have to admit that my eye does wander from what's on the counter.. to what is behind the counter!

I was walking around the market the other day with my camera and taking some portraits to share one of the reasons I love the market.

Morning coffee/news/Italian lesson with the Boys at Claudio's

My Italian improved by shopping the market, first by eavesdropping at conversations at the bar when I had breakfast, to picking up recipes when I stood in line.

I am really blessed, besides fabulous seasonal food, which everyday encourages me to SHOP LOCAL, like the movement on the net I read about on Chez Pim
seems like she and I also have some good reasons to frequent your local farmers market!

If not for the quality and choice of food, as Pim says, it also is a great place to meet people, from the vendors to the clients. Shopping the market takes an extra effort, may cost a little more as the products often come from small farmers, so anyone shopping there must be a similar person to you. One that cares!

I remember when I lived in San Francisco, the Marina Safeway was the place to shop, now as Pim says, Saturday at the Ferry Plaza Market is the place to be!

Look for a farmer's market near you, shop it, support your local farmers... say thank you.. maybe hug one! I guarantee it will improve the quality of your life and your happiness.

Stefano from my little market within the market

Massimiliano, my fish purveyor and recipe advisor.
Can you blame me for not LOVING the market?

Here are some of the seasons best...

Fresh garlic and beautiful zucchini blossoms
( we only fry the males, who don't produce zucchini's)

Fresh red onions from tropea, I think I am going to make my first Panzanella salad of the season next week.

Frais du bois, wild strawberries
to be served with Panna Cotta and 25 year old Traditional Balsamic Vinegar

Cooking with what is in season makes life so much easier.
All you have to do is not alter the flavors.
Often all you need for meat, fish and vegetables is extra virgin olive oil and sea salt,
for fruit, lemon and sugar.

Treat yourself to a wonderful day... and shop your market and eat local.


  1. Are you sure, at the market, you were just picking up 'recipes'?

  2. David... there is an old saying...
    "Just because I am on a diet, doesn't mean I can't look at the menu!"

    Just looking!

  3. Or, as I like to say...just because I'm not buying doesn't mean I can't shop.



  4. It's funny, in Italy shops have a sign on the doors saying free entrance..
    refering back to the times when oneonly came into the shop... to shop!

    Still in most stores, you do not handle the food or merchandise, you could bruise a peach or dirty a lovely white linen shirt, and then the store would be responsible for selling a ruined product!

    so no squeezing the fruit!

  5. that's it. I am moving to Florence.

  6. Sam, I lived in SF for 7 years before moving here when I turend 30... 33 years ago!

    We had a saying..
    " San Francisco is my kind of city,
    where the woman are strong....
    and the men are pretty!"

  7. J- like usual, your blog makes me hungry for italian... anything!

  8. before moving here when I turend 30... 33 years ago!

    You are NOT 63!!! Better correct that! Even in Kansas I know my meat man, fish man and farmer. You never know what special treat you may find in you bag of veges.

  9. oops.. should wear my classes!...22 years ago!

  10. I am so excited to come across this post (and your blog)! Im headed to Florence in July, and will definetely try to stop by this market, which sounds wonderful!

  11. zucchini blossoms..I am so envious. I have always wanted to try them, but have never had the chance. One day I will jsut grow zucchini for the blossoms alone.

  12. How wonderful to find your blog - a locavore in Firenze! My husband and I are spending a few days in Florence in October before spending a week with a class in Spannochia. I am looking forward to looking through your blog - oh goodie!

  13. you must come to the Siena doesn't have a large one like this.. it is really special!

    have fun at your school.. next time I hope you come and study with me at

  14. you can also use pumpkin blossoms.
    We tend to fry only the boy blossoms... which do not produce zucchini..
    I will get some foto's and do a demo!