by Melinda Gallo

Chit-chatting at the mercato

A little after 1PM, I went to the mercato (market) today. I generally avoid going on Saturdays because it's usually quite busy. I went to my macellaio (butcher) and he looked overwhelmed by all the people standing in front of the counter. There were so many people that I decided to go to the gastronomia (cheese/milk vendor) while the crowds died down.

I went to the gastronomia and was helped by my usual guy who is quite soft-spoken and upbeat. He always remembers which cheeses I buy for Dave and lets me taste anything I want. Today, even though it was quite busy, we talked some more. He told me that all three of them (he, another man, and a woman) are brothers and sisters and that they opened their gastronomia back in 1989, "quando eravamo giovani" (when we were young) he told me.

He's probably younger than me, so I told him, "Eravamo tutti giovani nel 1989." (We were all young back in 1989). I was surprised that they were all related since the two brothers have quite light hair and light blue eyes and the sister's hair is black and has brown eyes.

Usually when I go to the gastronomia, his brother and sister let him wait on me. Once, his sister began helping me and as soon as he finished helping his other customer, he finished getting my things for me. He and I have been talking a bit more each time and I've promised to make him chocolate-chip cookies because he loves chocolate. He always teases me because I buy a lot of butter and eggs, so he thinks that all I do is make dolci (desserts).

I am usually quite hesitant to talk for too long because there are always people waiting, but I have finally decided to be more easygoing about it. I'm just always afraid that someone will get upset and say something to me. But, I have noticed that other people chit-chat with my vendors as well and I patiently wait my turn.

I realized when I left the market that I don't really know anyone's name and no one knows my name either. I did find out the other day that my macellaio's name is Paolo. Of course, I can't use his name to call him because we haven't really introduced ourselves, so it would look awkward if I called him by his name.

I am thinking that my goal over the next month, since I don't want to be too forward, is to find out everyone's name and to tell them mine. My macellaio, the ortolana (green grocer), the guy at the gastronomia, the woman at the negozio di alimentari (grocery shop) who has finally started saying "tu" (informal you) instead of "lei" (formal you) as of last week, and the girl at the forno (bakery) who was the first one to be interested in knowing a little about me.

Since I've been going to the mercato to buy food from the same people for over 14 months, it'd be nice to know everyone's name.

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