Archive for March 24th, 2004

Pork sandwices and a better Nutella

I wake up to a grey, gloomy, humid, frrrrrrreezing day and for a moment I think I am in Seattle. However, the Duomo is still there so I know that’s not true. In class we learn all sorts of interesting expressions and are instructed to work in groups and write a story using all these expressions, but we have to write everything in passato remoto (also called Sicilian past, since Sicilians are really the only ones who use it), which is not a strong point at all…It’s a good challenge but I leave the classroom struggling to remember all of the verb forms.It’s market day again and I meet Cristina, who I know from and we head to the market for pork sandwiches, apparently the main reason for going there. Cristina is from San Francisco and has lived in Siena for 10 years with her (Italian) husband and their two children. The market is large and crowded, despite the rain, and Cristina knows just how to get to the booth with the porchetta. She orders for us and the vendor offers me a piece of pork to taste. I close my eyes and let the succulent, fatty meat melt in my mouth. I’m so glad I’m not a vegetarian. She insists on buying so I buy the coffee at a nearby bar, and we sit ourselves in a park and eat our delicious sandwiches.

She has to go grocery shopping and offers to take me with her to Coop (which I remember from Switzerland), positively the largest supermarket I have ever seen in Italy. She tells me that while the city centre is certainly very small, Siena itself is actually quite large, one of the bigger comuni here.

At Coop, things are nearly half the price that they are in the city centre. A computer assigns her a hand-held machine, with which you scan everything you put into the cart. At checkout, the clerk takes your machine and scans it with the computer at the counter, and a receipt is produced and you pay. I can imagine it’s very easy to steal things this way. I find some pecorino cheese for 3 euros less than I paid in the centre, and Cristina turns me on to a chocolate product that is supposed to be much better than Nutella because unlike Nutella, it has no hydrogenated oils and therefore really tastes like chocolate.

She tells me that the people of Siena don’t do any of their shopping in the city, let alone Siena at all. They will go to places like Coop for their groceries but for clothing and other such things, they all go to Poggibonsi. Poggibonsi is most certainly not a tourist attraction, which could very well explain the difference in price…She gives me a ride home and I find that it’s almost impossible to figure out where I am from the perspective of a car.

As soon as I’m home I swap the spring jacket for my winter coat which I had packed for the trip ‘just in case’. Good thing I thought to bring it because while last week was incredibly warm and sunny, this week is quite chilly and wet…

On with my pink fuzzy hat and I’m out the door for the afternoon…

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