by Melinda Gallo

What's for lunch?

There are days I open the refrigerator door and I don't know what to cook for lunch. Nothing inspires me. Since we've been eating dinner out for the last few days, I'm really in the mood to cook something today. It's only noon and the outdoor market is still open for a little bit longer. I'm getting hungrier by the minute so I head out.

As I get closer to the market, I hear all the familiar sounds of vendors taking orders from the customers, vendors calling out special prices on their products, and people talking when they meet their friends and neighbors. These days there are quite a few tourists who struggle by pointing and holding up their fingers, but in the end, they get what they want.

I get to the ortolano's (green grocer's) stand and the pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) catch my eye first, the basil waves at me in the wind, and the aglio nuovo (new garlic) tickles my nose.

I instantly decide to make farfalle con pomodorini, basilico, aglio e mozzarella (Butterfly pasta with cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and mozzarella) for lunch.

I can practically taste lunch in my mouth as I pick my pomodorini and select one aglio nuovo bulb and ask the ortolana (green grocer) for basil. She weighs it and puts it all in my bag. As we exchange the bag for money, I inhale the smells of my future lunch while I wait for her to give me change.

I'm excited now to go into the main building to get some cheese. I go to the counter I normally go to and the woman is not smiling as usual as she helps a few customers in front of her. Since I don't feel welcome today (she looked at me and didn't respond when I said, "Buon giorno."), I decide to go to another counter where two guys work who always seem friendly and available.

After talking to one of the guys at the cheese counter, I end up picking fior di latte, which is a type of mozzarella made from cow's milk. It's saltier and a bit harder, which is good for a cold pasta dish. He thought it was a good idea too.

I lug the bags home, unload all my groceries and get cooking. I didn't buy enough food for lunch tomorrow...but I can go back to the market and find my inspiration again.

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