Shopping Italian markets for the freshest ingredients
I can’t think of even one person to visit Italy and not be immediately captivated by the charming streets and passages lined with sandstone houses and wrought iron fences decorated with tiny gardens. Roadside veggie stands and larger markets lush with all the high quality, seasonal and local fruits, vegetables and other delights fill all the senses. In Italy, you can see that shopping for groceries is an act of love and it’s actually a way of life for most people to stop by the nearest produce stand on their way home to pick fresh produce.
Whatever ingredients you’re looking for, the markets offer a huge variety of homegrown goodies from fragrant herbs, plump olives, gigantic lemons, the finest olive oil, grapes for winemaking and biting into, figs and dates unlike any you see in our grocery stores. Fresh from the ground or picked right off the trees everything is out on roadside stands and in local markets, all grown locally.
If you love cheese, you’ll feel right at home. At any local market, you can see farmers proudly displaying their selection of formaggio such as asiago, ricotta, mozarella di Bufalo, pecorino, provolone and local specialties. Italy is a world leading cheese producing country especially in the Campania region which is rocky and not conducive to raising beef. Instead of cows, farmers raise sheep and nimble goats to produce some of the world’s finest cheeses.
And then there is the famous tomato. There are many varieties of tomatoes but it’s the famed the San Marzano tomato grown in the San Marzano region outside Naples that most southern Italians prefer for their sauces. Their meaty taste and texture is attributed to the volcanic rich soil and Mediterranean climate. Any pizza aficionados all know that the Napolitano pizza will always be made with the juice of a Marazano tomato grown in the valley. And of course… Mamma Agata’s simple yet delicious tomato sauce is not to be missed.
My guests and I always have so much fun using simple, fresh ingredients from the land and the sea during our culinary tours and learning to prepare meals from scratch in unforgettable locations overlooking breathtaking landscapes… there’s nothing like it.
Happy shopping and buon appetito!
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, divorced, widowed and solo travelers seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India.