The local traveling Farmer’s Market…

By the time I walked to the produce truck, it was surrounded by no less than 10 locals residents, anxious to buy their weekly supply of fruits and veggies.

Last Thursday, upon returning from Pescia with enough groceries to last two weeks, there was a produce truck parked across from the lot where we park the rental car.

Locals had gathered around, purchasing their fruits and vegetables. Having already purchased all the produce we needed at the time, it made no sense to make any additional purchases.

Without the use of chemicals on produce to enhance its preservation or ward off insects,, the vegetables we’re purchased seem to spoil quickly, except the cabbage and carrots we use almost daily for our coleslaw. Although we enjoy lettuce salads, we’ve found the lettuce spoils in a matter of a few days whereas the cabbage, if left uncut, may last until we shop again.

It felt awkward taking photos so I did so discretely.  Unquestionably, I was the only tourist in the bunch as I heard the locals chatting on endlessly in Italian.  I did my usual head nodding, hiding my camera under my shirt.

Having used all of the produce we bought last Thursday, we’re now down to only the cabbage, a few carrots, onions, and garlic.With our limited diet, a wide array of fresh vegetables certainly enhances our nutrient intakes but also the degree of enjoyment of our meals. 

Making chow mien a few nights ago, we used cooked cauliflower, cut into pea-size pieces as the base, as opposed to rice or chow mien noodles. It was delicious! Cauliflower can be used as a base instead of pasta, rice, beans, or grain for any meal. It takes on the flavor or the main dish without imposing any special flavor of its own.

Also, with a masher or food processor available, it can be mashed to appear and taste similar to mashed potatoes with the addition of butter, salt, and pepper. Once on the plate, one forgets it’s not potatoes and can enjoy it along with the other items in the meal. Unfortunately, an Irish potato loving guy, Tom’s not sold on this concept. I’ll give him credit for trying.

More fruit than vegetables, I was unable to replenish our supply of cauliflower.

In desperation, we do have a supply of canned green beans on hand. Certainly not a favorite but with no freezer space for frozen vegetables, we’ve had to adjust our objectives to accommodate our current needs. 

(Unsure of the exact arrival time of the produce truck, I kept checking outside to see if it had arrived. Last week, when we returned from shopping it was outside at about 3:30 pm.  Hopefully, the schedule is the same each week.  We shall find out soon enough).

In the US, most canned produce contains tons of highly processed salt. Not adverse to salt, we prefer to add our own Himalayan salt which is not chemically processed. Having used Himalayan salt for years so far it has traveled with us with our determined effort to avoid cooking with commercially processed salts.

In Italy, we’ve found most foods befitting our way of eating to be exactly as nature intended; plain. Of course, the markets are filled with the usual “junk processed foods” although considerably less than we’re used to seeing on the shelves in the US.

The baking section in the aisles is less than five feet wide as opposed to an entire aisle in the US.  If one is hoping to bake a boxed cake mix, there are few, if any options.  We were unable to find unsweetened baking chocolate, necessary to make our allowed “fudge” for an occasional treat. 

Plus, there is literally no coconut in the markets:  no raw coconut, no coconut flour, no coconut oil, further limiting some of our cooking and baking options.

Tonight for dinner; seasoned homemade chicken salad with onions, celery, hard-boiled free-range eggs, and of course, the finest pure mayonnaise we’ve found anywhere, made without chemicals; no HFCS, no sugars, no corn oil, no by-products.

Here’s what I purchased today for a grand total of Euro $4.09, US $5.33.  Prices were better at the grocery store but the freshness and convenience made it worth paying more.

This morning, for an additional entrée for tonight’s dinner, I cooked a pork loin roast, shredding and seasoning it with the fabulous Italian pasta sauce we found without sugar. This is a replacement for the usual sugary barbecue sauce. The end result: some mighty fine tasting “pulled pork,” minus the bun. 

Needing change, I handed the vendor a single bill for Euro $50, (US $65.10), concerned she’d refuse the larger bill.  No problem!  She had a fanny pack filled with money!

Throw our staple, coleslaw, into the mix, a big bowl of “fresh” steamed green beans for a hearty, healthy meal for tonight’s dinner with leftovers for tomorrow night. Yes, it might be an odd combination of items but who’s to say what we “should have” at any given meal? 

At 3:25 Tom saw the produce truck coming down the winding road heading toward our neighborhood. Grabbing my grocery bag, camera, and Euros, I headed outside to the vendor, thrilled I hadn’t missed its arrival. 

It was obvious that a stop to our tiny neighborhood might be toward the end of their route for the day with the resulting several empty bins. But, I was able to find carrots, green beans, and eggplant. This should be enough to last us with what we have on hand to get us through the next several days until we leave on our road trip next Tuesday to grocery shop again.

Going forward, we’ll purchase produce every other Thursday at the market in Pescia, enough to last a week, no longer dealing with spoilage, supplementing with what the produce truck has on hand on the alternating Thursday.  This is a perfect solution to our spoilage issues.

There’s nothing like food and love. In abundance, they fill the belly and the heart, both of which hunger for replenishment, while never losing interest in the in the prospect of the next opportunity to savor in their delights.

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