Saturday, August 15, 2009

andiamo agli supermercati!

i love food. that should be pretty obvious, so it follows that one of my favorite parts of traveling is perusing the supermarket, finding similarities and curious products. the best part about roman supermercati is that even large, corp-esque places carry farm-fresh products.

when we first arrived at our apartamento, we went for a short stroll around the block to check out our environs. we needed a fuse because M blew one with his computer by our first evening a roma! it was pretty amazing that we found a lighting/electric shop just around the corner and bought a 10-pack of fuses for .50euro. just across the street from the lighting shop was a small alimentari which i can't seem to remember the name of.

it was around 7 when we went shopping, so they were pretty close to shutting down shop. it was much larger and cavernous than i expected, and we picked up some great items. i decided to make artichoke & ricotta ravioli with a zucchini/tomato/alici (pickled sardines)/olivi/pecorino sauce. not bad. not bad.

as you can see, we also picked up some mirtilli e cereali (blueberry & cereal grains) yogurt, salame, chili flakes, coca liiiiiight, acqua frizzante, and some canned tonno. tuna in italy is the bomb. you can pick up a generic brand like rio mare (equiv to chx of the sea), and it tastes absolutely different in the most amazing way. the fish is brinier, firmer, just amazing. M even emailed the rio mare website after we returned to ask if they distributed to the US, but unfortunately, they DON'T. BAH!!!

standa is a supermarket franchise found all over italy. their website isn't that great (as are most italian sites), but it is convenient for looking up weekly specials and discounts. when i lived in rome, standa was my savior. it was the closest one-stop-shop to my apartment, and an experience all it's own. above standa on viale trastevere is a small clothing store (oviesse) and a profumeria (limoni) which sells cosmetics, perfume, and all sorts of other bath products.

back to the good stuff. a few years ago, birra wasn't as chic in rome. everyone drank wine, especially at home, and only drank beer at english-style pubs and occasionally during lunch on a hot day. now birra is a popular at-home and in-the-streets beverage, so standa stocks more than peroni and moretti. heineken and guinness are quite popular.

now onto the "ethnic foods" aisle. this is hilarious. why doesn't uncle ben just stick to what he knows: rice?!?? salsa? really beezy?

there was actually a whole section of "il tehx-mehx" at standa. tortilla chips were a total shock to me.

we brought back quite a few bags from standa. that package of pachino tomatoes was a real prize. they were perfectly sweet and ripe right out of the store. that's the most annoying thing about buying produce from american supermarkets: you always have to wait a couple days for items to ripen. not in italy. mmm. more tonno, surprise. M got some latte fresco (fresh milk) which is something like 1-2%. they don't really classify their milk by percentage like we do. it's more like fresco, whole (integrale), and cream. there's a little box of latte soia in there, too.

these were winners. little cherry peppers stuffed with tuna, sardines, and giant capers in olive oil. holy crap. we went back a couple days later and they were out. boo.

and my favorite italian beverage, aranciata without added sugars. it's so good and light. mmm. i wish they had it here. the san pellegrino aranciata just isn't the same. it's too sweet and overly-carbonated for my taste.

this item was a curious crap shoot: black olive-flavored tuna paste. it was pretty good on rosemary crackers, but the little bit of grey, separated liquid that squirts out first isn't the most appetizing.

yet another trip to standa....this time we brought home some fizzy grapefruit soda, icky, bland pretzels, bread for breakfast toast, pickled artichoke hearts, fresh burro from campagna, little fresh mozz balls, white chocolate (that was actually quite waxy compared to the cheap, hershey's equivalent galak bar i had the day before), and my obsession, milk/choc-hazelnut spread.

man, there's nothing like fresh, local butter. it was so deliciously creamy and bright. wow. ps, i love butter. M and all of my friends can validate this.

lamberto, the apartment owner's son, in his brief introduction to the neighborhood, told us that just outside the portone (big front door of the building) there was a store full of "strange things for foreigners." he spoke amazing english (his gf's from nyc), but in italian, foreigner = straniero = strange. anyhow, the little store did not disappoint, and in fact, had quite the stock of "strange" items.

aren't these old el paso kits ridiculous? i love it. good ole betty crocker found her mexican way to italy.

who doesn't love patak's? M and i adore their mango pickles with rice and lentils. it's nice to know that if i ever move to italia, i can get my indian fix at home. there are actually quite a few excellent indian and middle eastern/north african restaurants in the city because of the immigrant population. i love that kind of unexpected diversity.

a few french maionese-based sauces. i should have checked the ingredient list on the americaine...i wonder what kind of crap they think we eat.

okay, i'm totally guilty. i thought this blackface packaging for these nougat candies was ridiculous. it's interesting how afro-italians don't feel the same racist-tinglies an american might seeing this.

i think this pretty much sums up that store for foreigners: american nutty. italians never eat peanut butter. you will absolutely not find it in any supermarket because they eat nutella or butter or jam on toast. this ground peanut confection is completely "strange" to them. why is it such an important part of our cultural identity?


Suge White said...

Food is better and cheaper in Italy.

I miss Rome.

I just wish it was a little less hot in the summer.

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