Monday, August 11, 2008

Rome off the tourist track - Nuovo Mercato Esquilino/Piazza Vittorio Market

This market, located near Termini Station, is one of the oldest and largest in Rome. It’s huge. To be honest I was a little overwhelmed. So many vendors to choose from.

I work in the mornings so trying to get here during the week isn’t going to happen and the best time to hit any market is first thing in the a.m. I went on Saturday. Market opens at 8:00 a.m.

This is the place for ethnic foods, like plantains, yams, cassava, ginger etc. There are several fish vendors and all were packed at 8:15.

Price-wise it’s definitely cheaper than Campo de’ Fiori. Unfortunately it’s a hike for me so this market will have to be an once a month kind of thing.

I love that at the markets I have been to so far, Campo de’ Fiori, Testaccio, Vittorio and the little one in my neighborhood (every other Sunday) I can buy super fresh vegetables and fruit. Saturday I bought one ear of corn (only one because I live by myself and fresh corn cannot sit) from Sicily and it was the sweetest, kick-ass delicious corn I've had in a long time. I've already spoken about the tomatoes (most of the ones I've bought are also from Sicily) and now I can never go back to eating those bland supermarket tomatoes I used to eat in the States. They look nice, no blemishes but I don’t miss them.

Remember when there were all those problems with Chinese imports? Around that time I read an article stating over 50 percent of garlic sold in the States is from China. That is crazy far for something “fresh” to travel.

I much as I crack up every time Ina Gartner (The Barefoot Contessa chef) says “use very good olive oil” (really no, I shouldn’t use mediocre?) she’s right. The simplest dishes here taste so good because of the quality of the ingredients.

Some fruit.

Not sure what these are but they were very popular.

Lots of fish. I wonder if this is a good place to get baby clams for linguine with clams? Would I have to keep them on ice until I got back to my apartment? There are a bunch a fish mongers near me. I will comparison shop but fish is something I don't like to mess with. I'd rather pay more for a place with good fish.


*Belgian said...

I love markets in Rome. For some reason I have never been to the one near Termini, but now I want to!
I totaly understand your tomato-'statement'.
When I'm in Belgium I don't eat many tomatoes (they often taste very watery), but when in Italy I eat them like twice a day. They have so much more flavour!

glamah16 said...

Linguini and clams! Yum. The other looks like a cross between a pear and squash.

erin :: the olive notes said...

i wonder what those green things are? Let us know if you figure it out. I love seeing the fish at the Sicily we saw 'neonati'...gray mounds of tiny tiny squid.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite things to do in Italy is to walk around the markets. There is nothing better than getting fresh produce.

Anonymous said...

Re the "green things", are they not pears?

sdg1844 said...

I love open air markets. NYC has a great one down @ Union Squarem though not the same kind of variety I see in this post. There are also quite a few here in San Francisco.

I like supporting local growers and Cali has wonderful produce if nothing else. :-)

WineGrrl said...

Your posts make me want to reconsider spending some time in Rome. I am much more of a Tuscany person, but you make Lazio sound so fascinating!

Regarding the funny green thing: it's called an Upo. It is kind of an interesting vegetable, so I did a little digging and found this:

homebody at heart said...

It costs so little to produce garlic in China, something like 2-3cents per pound, yes, cents (and we have no idea what kind of pesticides they are using). We also grow pistachio nuts here, ship them to China to be hand hulled and ship them back for sale. And, I also heard of a local farmer who grows eucalyptus for crafts, ships them to China to be sprayed different colors then ships them back here for sale. The world is crazy. They can do this in China because they are not held accountable for pollution or environmental concerns.

Better to buy local!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Hmmm... Upo and Pandan leaves... this was a good day for me to learn things on blogs. Nuovo Mercato sounds amazing. I wish we'd been in Toronto on Saturday long enough to see the produce part of St. Lawrence Market.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

belgian - they do. I'm not sure how long the season lasts but I'm enjoying them now.

glamah16 - It's one of my favorite dishes. I think I need to try and make it.

erin - see winegrrl's comment below.

ms. violetta - I agree.

e. - nope. There are much bigger. Thanks to winegrrl I now know what a upo is.

sdg1844 - I used to live near the Union Sq. market. I love that neighborhood. In L.A. the Santa Monica Farmers' Market is excellent.

winegrrl - I haven't explored Tuscany yet. I've been to Florence and Siena but that's it. I want to see Lucca and some of the hill towns. A friend of mine said after the summer holiday we'll go visit some wineries. That should be fun.

homebody - two to three cents?! wow. I noticed at my Pavillions and the Gelsons back in L.A. they never listed where the unpackaged fruit/veggies came from unless there was something special like cherries from Washington state. Here the lemons, etc. all will say next to the price where they are from. In L.A. I tried to go to the Farmers' Markets as much as possible for my fruits and veggies esp. for things like strawberries and peaches.

jen - The produce market (in the hall across the street) is very good. So are the bakeries. I was looking through a book on Rome a friend gave to me as a present. It's all about food. Come this fall I have a lot of eating to do. ha.

heartsandflowers said...


I've seen your comments on other blogs and see that you have one of your own. I lived in London and Dublin for a year and wish I could've stayed longer. You are an inspiration. I know that you worked in LaLa Land for a time but I haven't gone through your archives yet. I am seeing a dearth of roles in front of the camera for Black actresses [in fact I was just counting for even background actors and came up empty] on some movies and tv shows I've watched recently so I can only imagine what a challenge it is behind the scenes. Except I'm watching Saving Grace as I type this and one of the leads is Lorraine Toussiant and I think one of the writer/producers may be a WoC as well Dee Harris-Lawrence. So there is some hope, eh? Good luck on your project[s] and forging your own path. I was an actress and felt I had to take a step out of things before I totally lost it. But I miss it. So I'm thinking about going back to LA. I'm not that far away physically but I feel worlds away mentally. So anyway I'm in the planning stage right now because I want to be very careful and use wisdom in making this transition back. I'm going to enroll with Workplace Hollywood. If you have any tips please feel free to let me know. Thanks for your time. I also have a blog that I've started

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

heartsandflowers - thank you and thanks for stopping by.

I hope things are getting better in Hollywood. It's tough out there for actresses period. Just not a lot of interesting film roles but for actresses of color, it's a joke. There are a bunch of actors black and white who can greenlight a movie. The biggest star on the planet right now is Will Smith who took over the spot from Tom Cruise. Actresses who can greenlight a movie? You can count on one hand.

The best advice I can give is to be selective about the roles you play. It's so easy to get typed-cast. Think about longevity. Get to know Casting Directors. They can really champion you. Every movie I worked on if the CD said we had to meet with someone for a role, even if we thought their reel was just okay, we would. CD are the ones who first introduced me to talent who are starting to pop.

Romerican said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Romerican said...

The garlic from China never made any sense to me, I've seen it in many supermarkets here in Rome too (not at the outdoor markets though, they sell homegrown garlic), I make a point of buying local produce only... when I can ;)
Yep, they recently made listing the origin of the produce a law - so at least this way people are informed and can choose what they want to buy based on where it's from.

Monika said...

I bought some of those pear things and they had no taste...not sure if we just bought bad ones as I don't know what they are supposed to taste like either!

Di Mackey said...

I adore Campo de’ Fiori but I'm willing to look around next time I'm in Rome.

You make me homesick for Rome ... you should have some kind of 'read with caution' badge here, sweetpea.

Monkling said...

I love this. I'm using your blog for notes. My son will be in Rome for the next 5 years so I expect to be there at least 5 times. That market seems to be about a half mile from where he'll be so it'll be a fairly easy walk.

Claudia said...

I totally agree with you about the tomatoes here. People that haven't had a good tomato can't even imagine, but I will add that one thing I love about Cali is the farmer's market every week...or several times a week if you travel a little bit. it's the closest to the italian markets I've experienced here in the US.

This Eclectic Life said...

Farmer's markets are wonderful, even in the states. I can't imagine how delightful the ones near you must be. Yes, it is crazy that foods are transported so far to be sold. I be that is going to have to change as transportation costs rise.

I'm jealous of you!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

romerican - I like seeing the origin. They should do that in the States ( I think it's voluntary now) but I don't think the agribusiness lobby would let that happen. Plus not sure that other than "foodies" in the States who would care? After all most people know the practices at Wal-Mart are not cool but will still shop there anyway.

monika - I read they are a popular Filipino food. I have now idea who the are supposed to taste.

di mackey - ha. sorry. Campo de Fiori is my market. Most of the vendors are gone already for the holiday.

monkling - I hope your son's stay in Rome goes well and you enjoy your trips here.

claudia - There is nothing like a fresh, local tomato. My dad used to grow them. At the end of the season we would get a little burnt out but at the beginning, we were very excited.
there was a great farmer's market in NYC near my apt. in Union sq. and my favorite in L.A. was the Santa Monica one. It was only twice a week I think, Wednesdays and Saturdays but incredible.

this eclectic life - food prices in the States are skyrocketing. One major reason is the cost of shipping. I don't think things are going to change given that gas will continue to get more expensive. sigh.

Petulia said...

Thanks for the comment. I enjoy your blog as well. Piazza Vittorio is definitely a great market, in my opinion better and less touristy than Campo Dei Fiori. Another valind option is Testaccio, or if you have time and a way to get there, il Mercato di Via Trionfale is awesome.
If you have never been, I would also suggest the Citta' Dell'Altra Economia (ex Mattatoio), it is the new destination for Organic delicious food.
Let me know if you get a chance to try any of them.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

petulia - you're welcome. I really liked the Tesstacio market. Thanks for the other market suggestions. Once this heat dies down, I will be back out exploring.

Anonymous said...

how fun. LOVE markets. and i too watch Ina Garten and ALWAYS get a kick when she says "use really good vanilla."

um ok Ina.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

eryn - I know!

It's the same thing with her cookbooks "Use very good butter". :)

Miss Expatria said...

ask them about the clams or whatever else you want to know about. they'll totally tell you. actually, they usually tell you without you ahving to ask!

Kataroma said...

Glad to made it to my local market here in Esquilino! I love that market - so fresh, so cheap and you find just about any kind of Italian or ethnic food there.

The fish is quite good there - at least the best I've found in Rome. Not as good as the Sydney fish markets but I'm not quibbling.