by Melinda Gallo

Mercato di San Lorenzo

I brought my brother, sister-in-law, and their children to the Mercato di San Lorenzo today at about 11AM. I never come to this area because in my mind it's always crowded. I know that the indoor mercato is larger than the one I go to at Sant'Ambrogio, but San Lorenzo is too far for me to go for my shopping excursions.

At first I thought of taking them to my mercato, but I realized that mostly locals go there and there aren't many specialty items. I've seen a few tourists, but you can't buy dried porcini (at least not in the large quantity they have in San Lorenzo), cantucci, or much specialty pasta to ship or take back to the US.

I saw a few Japanese girls who work a few of the booths and some of the signs are in English or even Japanese. That's always a sign that tourists are common.

We walked around and looked at all the glass cases with trippa (tripe), fromaggi (cheeses), pesce (fish) and carne (meat). My brother took pictures of chickens with their heads still attached while we bought dried fruit, like mango, cranberries, bananas, and strawberries.

I showed them a few things that aren't widely diffused in the US, like fiori di zucchine (zucchini flowers), fresh porcini (mushrooms), and aglio nuovo (young garlic).

We decided to eat outside in the small piazza behind the mercato, which was a big mistake. I am very picky about my food and I don't like ingesting food that doesn't taste good. It's a waste of calories!

I won't go into details about what we ate, but I did have a salad with tomatoes and mozzarella. A typical Italian treat that I make myself. And how hard is it? You go to the market, pick out fresh vegetables and mozzarella and it's practically done. But this restaurant added a twist by putting the mozzarella into some contraption that created small pieces that looked like hamster pellets. I must say that it could've been the best-tasting mozzarella in the world, but I just couldn't put one piece in my mouth.

I guess I should've known that the restaurant wasn't going to be good. They pay one person to stand at the front of the terrace to lure you in. They first try to speak to you in English and if you don't respond, they'll change languages until they get your attention.

It was a great day, excluding our last meal, that we were able to spend together before they leave tomorrow. I hope to go to the Mercato di San Lorenzo again, but I'll take my groceries home and make my own meal.

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