Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Market at Campo de' Fiori

The markets in Rome are diverse, from the inner city Alimentari or supermarket to the small individual bottegas that sell specific items, maccelleria (meats), enoteca (wine), salumeria (deli), and pasticceria (pastries) to name a few.

There is a place where many of these items can be found together, the outdoor market. The most famous of these is the market at the Campo de' Fiori (field of flowers) between the Tiber and the Pantheon. Paradoxically, the condemned were executed here during the Renaissance but now it is a bustling open air market from early morning until about 2:00.

April is asparagus season. At the American Academy it is often on the menu, where the food is prepared by the Rome Sustainable Food Project and is always seasonal. When we were in Panicale(Umbria),we were told that the wild asparagus is delicious but difficult to find.

Find it we did, here at the Campo de ' Fiori and at a high price. But buy it we did. The vendor asked in Italian, how were we going to cook it. Come? (How?) We said " bollito" (boil it). He sneered and motioned to a bunch of cultivated asparagus and said , "you boil that!" So,we asked " so how do we cook it? (allora , come, possiamo cucinare?) He replied, "omelet or pasta!" We will take the wild asparagus back to our kitchen. We will make pasta , toss it with some good olive oil, salt & pepper then add the tiny wild asparagus and some grated parmesan cheese. The vendor instructed us to only eat the tender top halve of the long stems, and that we can also eat it raw. We think it will be very good with pasta.

It is impossible for us to walk through this market and not want to buy everything to take back to our kitchen. The fruits are colorful and look so fresh. The strawberries are delicious!

An herb and spice vendor.

In the U.S. the ever present street food vendor is the hot dog stand, here in Italy, particularly it Tuscany and Umbria, it is the porchetta stand. Porchetta is a deboned suckling pig, stuffed with fennel fronds, and other herbs, rolled and roasted in a forno (oven). It is amazing!

A panini can be ordered and eaten on the spot. Housewives (casalinge) take slices home for dinner. It is important to know the day of the week that the fresh porchetta arrives to the market or maccelleria, and then be there early!

Alas...............James enjoying the porchetta panini!

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