by Melinda Gallo

The market at closing time

I normally cut it a little close when I go to the market these days. I seem to fill up my mornings with writing and reading. So, I end up going to the market late at around 1PM or later. Since it closes at 2PM, I just make my way around to my ortolana (fruit and vegetable vendor) and then go inside. The outside areas usually close earlier because they have to take everything away somewhere.

After I bought some mozzarella, I remembered that I forgot to get basilico (basil). I didn't want to return to my usual ortolana. So, I decided to find some basilico somewhere else.

I walked by another fruit and vegetable stand and I saw a few sprigs of basilico wrapped in paper on top of a case of oranges. I picked one up and stood there. The man asked me, "Non vuoi altro?" (You don't want anything else?) "No." I responded and smiled, feeling a bit guilty that I'm not a bigger customer. "Prendilo," (Take it) he tells me. I feel guiltier, so I say, "No va bene. Prendeṛ altra cosa." (No, that's ok. I'll get something else.)

Because it was closing time, some of the vendors try to get rid of things because by the next day, they'll be rotten anyway. Of course, this didn't come into my head until I was home unpacking my food.

But still, I couldn't just take the basilico. I end up picking a few apricots that I realized were too ripe to eat when I got home. So, my free basilico ended up costing me three times as much. I think the next time I go, I'll either not go to a new ortolano or just take the free basilico.

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