Years ago when I lived in Rome, back when Marcus Aurelius ran the place, you could only grocery shop at these tiny grocery stores known as pizzicagnoli. One sold dairy and eggs. Another bread. Another meats and cheeses. It was fun but it took forever to get food shopping done. One neighborhood grocer would individually wrap eggs in paper, very slowly I might add, and gently lower them into a plastic bag for me to carry home. I lived in the centro storico section of Rome, the historic center, near Campo de’ Fiori. The streets are very narrow. I remember walking home with my gently-and-slowly-wrapped bag of eggs on one of the narrower streets near my apartment when a small car came by a little too fast (surprise, surprise) and its bumper hit my bag of eggs. And turned it into a ready-made omelette. Oh well, it could have been my kneecap.
These days when we’re at our home in Sansepolcro, in eastern Tuscany, I usually just bip over to one of 3 large grocery stores in the area to stock up on provisions when we first arrive. I say provisions because the store, the Coop, not only sells food and alcohol but a variety of other everyday products as well. If you want to buy a tire, go to Coop. If you want to buy a bra, go to Coop. If you want to buy, well, eggs, go to Coop.
So I’m on my way out the door to go pick up a few things at the Coop and my husband, whose food repertoire is a bit narrow, asks if I could buy him some…cheddar cheese. Cheddar?!? Now Italy produces about 450 varieties of cheese, among the best in the world.
The Coop must sell about 440 of them, including my beloved Grana Padano, the grainy cheese from the Po Valley, that I prefer over Parmegiano.
The cheese case you see above represents only about one-third of the cheese for sale at the Coop. The deli counter will also cut and wrap cheese various cheeses for you. So we have a big variety, right! Everything but cheddar. But that’s all he wanted.
By the way, I also needed some olive oil. And here were HALF of my choices.
I know, I know…an embarrasment of riches. But the Italians, well, they’re never embarrassed.