A year ago I was cooking because I had to. Dave and I would drag ourselves to the grocery store and plan our week's meals while we were pushing the cart around. Nowadays I walk to the outdoor market with money in my pockets (it's too difficult to hold my purse and all the bags) and figure out the next few meals as I see what's available.
I've noticed that fruits and vegetables are not sold in certain seasons. Some of the obvious fruits, like strawberries and watermelon I noticed even in the US, but if you're willing to pay a price, you could get them any time of the year.
A woman the other day asked for broccoli and the ortolana (green grocer) told her that it wasn't sold in the Summer. And when I asked the macellaio (butcher) about the chicken curry he told me it's only made in the Winter.
There are two things that I use in the kitchen that I can't seem to cook without these days. A scale and scissors. I'm used to measuring things out in cups and spoons, but here in Italy everything has to be weighed. I've been taught to not tear basil into pieces or use a knife to cut it. I believe someone told me that tearing the basil loses its flavor. So, I was told to use scissors and I do.
The scale is great because I can portion out pasta. Although in the Winter, I was cooking 250 grams for the two of us and now we can't even finish 150 grams!
I don't know if I began to really love cooking because I'm in Italy or because of the outdoor market. But, I do know that since we've been here we've gone out to eat a lot less.
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