by Melinda Gallo

Changes at my mercato

I haven't written much about the mercato that I go to a few times every week because for a while everything remained the same. I kept going to my vendors, like the macellaio (butcher) and ortolana (fruit and vegetable vendor). But suddenly, many things have changed at the mercato and not just because it's summer.

Today when I went to the mercato, I had a good look around. Many of the bancarelle (stalls) are missing because some people are in ferie (on vacation). But, I did notice that there are a few new ortolani at the mercato who seem to be from India. Their prices are quite low, their produce is quite nice, and they are outgoing. When I walked up to the bancarella to have a look at their fruits and vegetables, one guy came up to me and said, "buongiorno" and quickly handed me a bag.

There are also a couple of bancarelle where produttori (producers) who have their own farms and bring vegetables and fruits that they grow themselves. I thought that their prices would be higher, but they aren't. The quality, I feel, is superior and I try to get some of my vegetables from them. I'm not fond of the fruit, which doesn't look as nice, but I'm sure it's delicious.

I haven't wanted to change vendors, but I've been forced to do so. I used to never even look at the other bancarelle because I thought I should be faithful to my ortolana. But, one day, she didn't have something I needed and so I had to go to another ortolano. From that day, I started buying more and more things from other ortolani. Now, I hardly go to my old ortolana at all. I know that she's noticed because she no longer gives me discounts like she used to.

I've also noticed that each ortolano has their specialty. There is one ortolano who sells lots of bananas and avocados, another one who sells the sweetest mirtilli (blueberries), lamponi (raspberries), and ciligie (cherries), and a mother and daughter team who sell leafy lattuga (lettuce) and other vegetables.

Because I was so faithful to my ortolana, I never even paid much attention to her prices. But now I realize that she and the one next to her are probably the most expensive at the mercato.

I love the fact that right now I can take my time and walk around my mercato: very few people are out buying food this week and many of the vendors are rather relaxed as well.

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