Don’t Get Between an Italian and his Cheese.

Grocery storeIn the middle of downtown Sorrento, we found the rooftop apartment we’d call home for the next week. As everybody settled into their rooms, I explored the kitchen and found three wooden spoons, one serrated edged bread knife, a cheese grater, two small frying pans, and a pot I figured would be satisfactory for boiling pasta. A trip to the market was in order.

We fought our way down the afternoon sidewalk that had suddenly swelled with tourists   arriving from a cruise ship. The “supermarket” we found was more like a department store. We grabbed some baskets and navigated through racks of children’s clothes, toilet paper, and cosmetics before stumbling on the food market. The aisles were packed with dried pasta, fresh breads, vegetables, fruit, and herbs. Another aisle had endless varieties of cookies and candy. Another offered rows of affordable Italian wines. This is where I found Lee examining an assortment of bottles of Lemoncello.

“This is made here you know’ He announced peering through his glasses.

My eyes focused on a full service counter loaded with salami, prosciutto, pancetta, and meticulously displayed piles of cheese. Hanging behind the counter were sacks of buffalo mozzarella. I was feeling light headed with excitement. Half a dozen staff bustled behind the counter. Shari and I got stuck in line behind a young Frenchman who was having trouble communicating his order to the other young Italian man behind the counter. The frustration between them evolved into aggravation as they continued to banter in their respective tongues and got nowhere.  The Frenchman finally made a suggestion. “English?” The Italian nodded in approval of the protocol. A moment of silence passed.

“Slice?” The Frenchman suggested.

The Italian became noticeably annoyed, as if the Frenchman had insulted his mother. He walked backward two steps and took a protective stance in front of his slicing machine. He waved his finger and proclaimed:  “I am not going to slice Parmigiano Reggiano.”

NEXT: Finding Home

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