by Melinda Gallo

From one macellaio to another one

Ever since about June this year, my macellaio (butcher) has been only working in the mornings and by the time I get there at about noon, he's gone. I kept going to the same macelleria (butcher shop), but didn't feel like I was treated as well by the other macellai who work there. They rarely smiled at me and weren't all that energized to come to help me. Sometimes I'd feel so discouraged that I'd just walk away.

I did spot my macellaio a few times on Saturdays and we've said hello through the large crowds, but he was usually pretty busy and quite brief with me.

Today when I went to the mercato, I spotted him in front of the other cheese stand where I go sometimes. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "» da tanto che non ci vediamo." (It's been a long time since we haven't seen each other.) He responded by telling me that he works in the mornings. I was surprised by his freddezza (coldness). I didn't force the conversation when I saw that he was on the verge of walking away from me. I just said, "Buona domenica." (Happy Sunday) and turned toward the counter to purchase some formaggio (cheese).

I felt a little disappointed since he used to talk to me every time I saw him and always seemed happy to see me. He also used to give me great consigli (advice) about the meat that I bought and even offered me many sconti (discounts) on whatever I purchased.

It's true that I have even been trying to go to the mercato a little less these days because I've been so busy, but I didn't think that by not going, I would be treated any differently by him.

I walked past the macelleria where he works and went to the other one that I often go to. I didn't see him working and I figured that he wouldn't even notice. The other macelleria have younger--and I admit better looking--guys working there. One always calls me, "Miss California!" when he sees me.

I stood there in front of the bancone (counter) and looked into the meat counter. I wasn't feeling very open because I felt like I had just lost a good conoscente (acquaintance).

The macellaio, whom I had talked to a few times because I saw his photo in a travel guide on Florence, said, "» da un po' che non ci si vede." (It's been a while since we haven't seen each other.) I didn't think he'd notice since I don't go there all that often, but I smiled at him.

I bought some meat from him, which I find is really good even though my old macelleria probably has better bistecca (steak). I tried everything of theirs when my old macelleria was closed in August. Today I bought some agnello (lamb) that I cooked up and were absolutely delicious. Simone also told me that he prefers this macelleria over my old one, but I was faithful to my macelleria before my macellaio stopped working in the afternoons.

I walked away by saying, "Alla settimana prossima!" (See you next week) to my new macellaio. Even though I haven't gone that much to this new macelleria, the guys who work here have always been much friendlier, so maybe I should've changed a long time ago. I might still go to my old macelleria to get a good bistecca though.

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