6 March 2007
At the market - A guide
One of my aims with this blog is to prevent visitors or non Napoletani (-they know the rules from birth) making the same mistakes as I have made in the past.
So here is my guide to shopping for fruit and vegetables at the local market.
1. Make sure you know the price of what you’re asking for. If you don’t you could be in for a nasty surprise when it comes to paying. Prices are often illogical here. For example it’s 5 euro for an aperitivo (and I don’t mean the Milanese all you can eat aperitivo) whilst you can pay 10 euro for a complete meal (primo and secondo) plus wine and water. So don’t assume you know more or less the price of a kilo of zucchini. I asked the price of a pineapple once and the furbbacchione said “9 euro”. I laughed and said "I’ll leave it thanks". Then he reduced it as I was walking away, but too late! Too late! Let him learn.
2. When they pick your kilo of, say, tomatoes, if they are one of the not very honest fruttivendoli and think you are on holiday and won’t be going back, they will try and hide what they’re putting in the plastic bag or the much used newspaper cone. So whilst they have their back to you they will be filling the cone with mushy or rotted tomatoes with just a few good ones on top. Or you can end up with a load of leaves in the case of clemetines etc. Be very suspicious if they nip out to the back to get your goods or if they're overly chatty so as to distract you.
3. They will always say they’ve gone a bit over the weight you asked for. But this need not be a problem. You see, if you are prepared in advance you can win them at their own game and ask for a bit less. So when they say it’s a bit over, you’ll think “bingo that’s just what I wanted”. You have to be più furbo than they are.
4. Be prepared for them to try and sell you three lettuce for a euro when you only want one. Not really unique to Naples, or Italy this one.
5. Check your change – again not unique to Italy or Naples.
6. Check that you don’t find a World War2 hand grenade in your potatoes. I'm not joking. This happened to one unsuspecting shopper in a Neapolitan supermercato recently.
If this all sounds like a bit much you could just go to the supermarket and pick your own.