Marte Eggleston is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism major at the Indiana University, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Marte talks about her delicious food finds in Florence and how they compare to the normal fare back home.
After my first official week of being a citizen of Florence, I can say that I feel like I’ve been here much longer! I was amazed at how quickly I have learned my way around my neighborhood-- finding my way to CAPA, The Duomo, and other famous sites around the city center. I have grown used to the cafés, shops, and buildings as well. To me, one of the most important ways to make a place feel like home is to be able to be able to come home and cook a meal. As a self-proclaimed food enthusiast, I was more than excited to visit the close by Conad, an Italian “supermarket” chain and the Central Market near The Duomo.
I was not sure what to expect from the Conad: would it be like a grocery store at home? Would I be able to decipher the labels and names of foods? I walked in and was pleasantly surprised that the layout and products were mostly familiar. The produce section was full of the normal and the unusual, and the cheese section was enormous. I never realized that there could be so many kinds of pasta to buy, but it was all very comforting to see. I was able to find foods that reminded me of home like apples, bananas, and chicken breast, but there were some surprises as well. I did not expect to be able to find octopus, fresh mozzarella, and ten different types of salami. Probably the most challenging aspect of the shopping trip was realizing that all of the labels were in Italian, and in retrospect I should’ve realized that and brushed up on some food-related Italian words: but you live and you learn! My other biggest concern was how the prices would compare to the grocery stores of home, but again, I was pleasantly surprised. We had been warned that the stores in the city may be a little pricy, but I did not think it was so bad.
I have to gush about the Central Market. It may be my absolute favorite place in the city so far. I feel that there is no better way to get food than directly from those who make it. The market is filled with produce of all kinds: homemade cheeses and sauces, fresh seafood, and other meat products. I had the joy and jubilation of a kid in a toy store while looking at what was offered. Luckily for my bank account I only had a few Euros on hand, otherwise I may have spent more than I should have between the homemade sausage and the artisan pastas. But I couldn't come away empty handed, so I purchased some homemade oil seasoning packets that I am very anxious to try.
Another wonderful surprise at the market is that the entire second floor is an Italian food court. Surprise: no Burger King, McDonald’s, or Panda Express here. Anyone’s craving could be solved in this one place. We found specialty chocolates, cheese plates, and even burgers if you are missing America. One of the more unique options is what is quite literally a fried ball of pasta. Sounds slightly odd but tastes unbelievable (you have to be really hungry to eat it all, though). I am finding out more and more that my foodie soul is going to be very happy in Florence for the next few months.
Marte's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.