Monday, August 07, 2006

Camerano (part XV): Please don't touch the bananas (but if you do, make sure you do it right!)

"ITALIAN WOMEN TYPICALLY go to the market everyday to buy fresh fruits and vegetables,” explains our Italian teacher here in Camerano.

This must be why we Americans get stared at when we go to the market and stock up like we are preparing for a blizzard.

Needless to say, buying groceries in an Italian supermarket is different from food shopping in the United States.

At home you just go into the store, grab a peach, for example, maybe squeeze it a few times to make sure it is ripe, and then toss it into a plastic bag.

Here, try to grab your peach and you get yelled at by the cashier whose arms are flailing like she’s flagging a cab (and not getting one).

You soon realize that in Italy, you point to the produce of your choice and the grocery store workers retrieve it for you.

They don’t want your dirty hands touching another customer’s potential purchase.

At some stores, it is up to you to select your peach and take it to a scale in the produce section but even then there are restrictions. First, you are supposed to wear disposable plastic gloves supplied by the store. Second, you are supposed to weigh your own food and determine the price. You match the button on the scale with the fruit or veggie you are weighing.

The machine tallies your price and prints out a sticker with the proper amount plus a barcode. Slap that sticker on your fruit-filled plastic bag and you’re ready to check out.

If you don’t print up the sticker, it’s quite the nuisance for the cashier to walk all the way back through the store and do it for you.

Plus you feel like a foreign idiot.

- Caitlyn Slivinski


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