Living in Florence Living in Florence

Finally opening up

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It only takes one little change to bring about greater changes, they say. Today, I went to the market and I wasn't my usual passive self. At times, I feel a bit intimidated (or maybe judged by some), so I keep quiet, remain polite, and go about my day.

I arrived at the market quite bubbly today. Maybe because the sun was back out, maybe because I only had a half an hour before they closed, or maybe because I felt good about getting so much done before lunch.

I asked the ortolana (green grocer) today about the garlic she was selling. She explained the three types of garlic. The most popular type is the garlic we all know. The second type is aglio nuovo (new garlic), which looks just like regular garlic except it has a long stem still attached and it's quite difficult to break apart. The third type, I just found out about, aglio giovane (young garlic), which looks like green onions, because it is harvested before the bulb is formed. The ortolana told me how she loves it even more than regular garlic because it is pių leggero (lighter). She told me that I could even put it raw on a salad, it's so good. "Posso far cuocere un po' con le zucchine?" (Can I cook some with zucchini?) I asked. "Assolutamente!" (Absolutely) she responded and confided in me that that's her favorite. She normally doesn't say much to me, but then again, I normally don't say much to her either.

I then went to the macellaio (butcher) who asked me, "Ti piace cucinare?" (Do you like to cook?) "Sė, ma mi piace mangiare di pių," (Yes, but I like to eat more,) I responded with a big smile. Usually he doesn't ask me much besides questions about what I want.

My last stop was to the forno (bakery), where I haven't gone to in awhile because I found another bakery that makes fantastic schiacciata (flat bread). The blonde girl who works there saw me as I was at another counter and smiled at me. I went up to her and said, "Ciao, come stai?" (Hi, how are you?) Normally, I don't even ask such questions, but her smile warmed me up. We discussed the weather and its craziness in the middle of April. I was happy she didn't call me signora (madam) like she sometimes does.

As I left the market with bags so heavy that my fingers hurt, I realized that all this time I thought everyone was a bit distant with me, I was, in fact, the one who was distant with them. Once I opened up and talked to them, they opened up to me too.

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