Monday, May 9, 2011

Florence on $85 a Day – Sunday Supper

We didn't eat here.
Dinner Sunday night would come from the open-air market a few blocks away from our apartment.

At the butcher stall, we saw what looked like chicken that had been marinated in spices. It looked enticing but what part of the chicken was it? Or was it even chicken?

The first butcher gave up trying to understand our fractured Italian and called his partner over. The partner couldn't understand us any better, but at least he was willing to go the distance. We struggled through several more sentences trying to guess 1.whether this was chicken and 2.what part of the chicken it might be.

After another lengthy discussion in which neither side understood the other, in desperation, I finally pointed to the delectable looking marinated chicken and then to my body. Before I got too graphic, the butcher grabbed a raw whole chicken, pointed to a spot somewhere between the leg and the back, and said, “Si, si.”

We frowned. Ah, so it was chicken. Just not the part we wanted.

Somehow, after five minutes of seemingly meaningless discussion and gesticulation, the butcher finally pointed to another area of the case where what looked like chicken breasts were nestled. He stabbed his finger at the appropriate spot on the raw chicken clutched in his left hand and then pointed back to the breasts. David and I nodded our heads, gave a thumbs up, and almost hugged the guy. We had our main course at last.

Nope, not here either.
After the chicken was fileted and trimmed, we went to find our landlady's friend, a baker, who sold artisanal bread. Emily had told us to look in one corner of the market, and sure enough, there was a little bread stand. The baker smiled when we mentioned Emily's name, and instead of giving us bread from the case, she went into the back to bring out a choice quarter of a round.

Next stop was the vegetable stand where David had spotted some particularly green broccoli. We also nabbed a lemon to use in our marinade.

We finished with the market but decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home to find some cheese. I wanted to introduce David to pecorino because I'd enjoyed it so much the last time I was in Italy. Of course, it required lots of tasting before we found just the right pecorino. After all, one shouldn't rush these things.

Finally, there were no more excuses to keep us shopping and since everything else we needed was already at “home” in the apartment, we headed back to marinate the chicken.

Sunday night, we lit the candles and enjoyed chicken breasts napped with a creamy lemon sauce, fresh broccoli drizzled with grated pecorino cheese, and warm artisanal bread with the best Italian butter.

I don't think anyone in Florence ate better that night!
This is it!

Practicalities -
David and I find it much more pleasant to prepare our own meals rather than eat in restaurants. We enjoy interacting with the farmers in the market as we collect the ingredients, we love saving money by doing our own cooking, and we always find that it takes less time to prepare a simple dinner than to agree on a restaurant!

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