FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!
Okay, I'm a foodie. I love food. I love to cook food, to eat food, to read about food, even to look at food. Because of this, no trip to Florence is complete without a visit to the Mercato Centrale, Florence's large, permanent market with fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, preapred and packaged foods and restaurants. It's a food lover's paradise!
The ground floor of the Mercato features the restaurants and permanent food sellers, while upstairs are the fresh fruit and vegetable stands. The upstairs is currently being renovated, so the fruits and veggies are temporarily located in a huge tent right outside the mercato. Needless to say, I enjoyed looking at the seasonal foods like the porcini mushrooms.
Inside the food hall I saw foods and fish and meats that I was unfamiliar with, but which were gorgeous and interesting to look at none-the-less. While wandering the aisles I did see one familiar site: our good friend Judy Witts Francini, aka DIVINA CUCINA! (You can keep up with Judy on her blog, OVER A TUSCAN STOVE.) Judy was explaining all about porcini to English chef GARY RHODES. Chef Rhodes is apparently filming the standard 'travel around Italy to sample all the regional foods' shows, and the focus of that day's filming was porcini.
After buying a few porcini for ourselves we stopped by BARONI’S, where they always have something interesting - and delicious. Rumor has it that they sometimes have cheddar cheese, but I didn't see any that day, and since we'd already treated ourselves to a few slices the previous evening from PEGNA's just down the street from our hotel, I didn't need the fix.
If I lived in Florence I think my days would go like this: head out to the Mercato Centrale in the morning. Buy something different, somthing new, talk to the vendor about what the food and how to prepare it, then go home and spend the rest of the day cooking and searching the internet to learn more about my new food/ingredient. In the evening I could take a passiagiata, get something simple for dinner like a gelato- and bask in the fact that I lived in Florence.