Friday, September 5, 2008

Tutto x Tutti

Supermarkets in Italy are a joy. Especially the smaller, less Westernized alimentari which are often times nothing more than a room with a mish-mosh of boxes and products stacked ceiling-high. Forget about wheeling a cart and numbered aisles. You just sort of browse and eventually you find what you're looking for. Or better yet, ask. Italian store owners take huge pride in their merchandise, especially when it comes to food. A tomato is not just a tomato. It's like a work of art. Picasso and pomodori are equally as beautiful in Italy.


In Praiano, a coastal town only a few miles from Positano, my mother and I had an Italian supermarket experience to rival the "window shopping" night I had in Treviso.
The view from our apartment in Praiano
My friendly local grocer from Treviso

After a 30-minute vertical climb to upper Praiano, we found what we had been searching for--Tutto x Tutti, the town's only major supermarket. Immediately we were tickled by the colorful assortment of vegetables and fruit sitting in baskets out front, and the marvelously messy shelves of Italian treats inside. They really did have "everything for everyone," as they name implied.

Our basket quickly filled to the brim with the evening essentials: bottled aqua frizzante, peaches and pearcocce, a variety of peach that's firmer and more golden, prosciutto (to go with the fresh figs we were given from Giovanni our landlord), olio and miele to take home to my relatives. We were comparing the extra virginities of the oil when we were halted by a curious man. A local. My favorite kind of encounter.

He said "Hello", in English. I responded, "Salve." A shiny gold necklace was tangled in his grey chest hair, which was proudly on display. His blue workman's shirt was unbuttoned--almost completely. The topic of conversation moved this way and that, just like the melody of his sing-song Italian voice. From good local pasta, to the reason for my stay in Praiano to how beautiful my mom was.

"Ma lei รจ la sua sorella, non la mamma," he said cheekily.

When I told him she was, in fact, my "Mamma" and not my sister, it was as if something came over him. That's when he broke into song. Eerily, it was the song my Nana sings in the kitchen at every Sunday dinner.

It was one of those "only in Italy" moments. The kind you try to imagine happening at home and then laugh. It could never. After the serenade it was back to business for everyone. Our friend went on his way, the deli man sliced some prosciutto and then we checked out.

At the register I realized we had way too many heavy items to consider walking home. I asked for a bus schedule and before I could even figure out how to read it, the store owner was by my side explaining that his son, Pasquale, who was about my age and a beutiful specimen of Southern Italian, would be happy to give us a passagio home.

So after small talking with Pasquale through the rear view mirror and giving him the required double kiss for his chivalrous services, my mom and I said farewell, hit the kitchen and buzzed giddily all night about our fortuitous adventure through the alimentari.

2 comments:

Scintilla said...

This is hilarious. And he let you film him too. We don't get that in the mini-market at Positano !

Rita Kent at TesoroFino.Com said...

WAS THIS GUY IN PRAIANO BY ANY CHANCE? SALVATORE? WE HAD ONE OF THE LOCAL MARKETS IN PRAIANO WHERE THE SON WOULD DRIVE US HOME! HILARIOUS! I MISS IT ALL SO MUCH!