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I recently purchased a new computer and I am going through a bunch of photos some 11K to be exact.

Many I no longer want and sometimes cannot remember what I am looking at. However this photo jumped at me.

Mercato Via Alessandria, Roma

This was our market in Rome about 3 blocks from our house. It was and is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 1pm. It sells, all manners of vegetables and fruits in Season, no imports here. Italian cheeses, farm eggs, meat, olives, olive oil, the best is sold in December/January, flowers, freshly made pasta, freshly baked breads, local Roman wine, which is good for the table or cooking. No frozen foods here. This photo was taken in March, I know because you can see artichokes on sale and they only appear in March. All of what you see on sale comes from the farms in the Lazio region around Rome. The exception is bananas and oranges which are not grown in Italy.

When you shop, it is better to go early, that is what the old ladies do, to get the best selection. It is a pleasure to shop in this environment, everything is beautifully displayed with great care by the vendors. No big corporations here, the Italian Government has been very careful to encourage/protect local instead of big box. It’s very local for locals and all in Italian of course. I learned the terms use for measurement of how much you wish to buy, you can say one kilo, but let’s say you wish to buy less, like 100 or 200 grams the word is Un Etto or Due Etti, it’s informal Italian.

The protocol of shopping here is that you touch nothing and do not serve yourself. You say hello to the vendor, first, then ask for what you want, the vendor will take care of choosing for you and bagging it all. Very civilized.

As for fish, you have to go to the fish merchant, which is located nearby, but go early, before 10am, they usually close by 11:30am. What you will see on display is what was available today, it changes constantly. So you have to be flexible on what type of fish or seafood you want, because we are in Italy, you will find local fish, nothing imported. There is a good variety. You can also buy fish in some grocery chain store but again the selection is based on daily catch.

Italians are fussy about food and what they buy, freshness and good quality is everything. I have seen arguments between some lady and the vendors, it’s all polite but has the tone of a police interrogation. Vendors have to be able to tell where their supplies come from and when it arrived. When it come to fish or seafood, the old lady will want to see the books for arrival dates. Don’t try to fool them, you do so at your peril. That women buying from you is cooking for her family, it is a question of honour.

I only wish that here in Canada, we would be so fussy, I cannot imagine someone not knowing how to cook or not knowing what type of cheese, vegetable or meat to buy, everyone would think you are poorly educated. Same for wines, I forget how many labels there are in Italy, I believe it is above 27000. You have to know your stuff and if you don’t at least ask for suggestions without showing you ignorance.

All these markets in Rome, there is one per neighbourhood, most of them were built between 1926-1935 by Mussolini’s government.