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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Italian Grocery Shopping

Why am I bothering to look for Italian produce in Seattle? Having an Italian husband and wanting to provide some good home cooked meals are giant parts of it. He loves snacking on fresh fennel and would love to eat Italian everyday. I have a wide repertoire of pasta dishes memorized but not living in Italy makes it hard for my menu to try new dishes. I guess I better stay surfing the net. I want to surprise him with Italian dishes so he won't miss home as much.

I look far and wide for Italian ingredients. Porcini can be found here in the summer, I found Italian runner beans , fresh zucchini (and flowers) and many more fresh fruits and vegetables that I can use to make great dishes. I decided to rent a garden plot in order to grow as many types of Italian vegetables as possible. I've ordered black kale, wild lettuces, wild chicory, wild arugula and fennel. (I bought 6 heads of fennel the other day @ 2.99/lb and it cost me $11.00.) Yikes! That's 6 dollars a kilo. I can usually find it for them for about 1 Euro a kilo. There will be many things I miss about Italy (they happen to be mostly food items.) and there any many things I missed about the U.S. and am glad to have available to me again. (They also happen to be food items.)

From Italy I will miss: (These are both short lists. There are so many more.)

winter artichokes from Sardinia
cavolo nero
pencil thin asparagus
wild salad greens
wild chicory
abundant porcini (when in season)
cheap fennel
vongole veraci
the best pizza in the world
al dente pasta
testun al Barolo

From the U.S I am glad to have available again:

white corn
corn tortillas
dungeness crabs
beets (not precooked)
canola oil
pomegranate juice
Rainer cherries
white peaches and nectarines
Cantonese roast duck
dim sum
BBQ roast pork

Being back in the States seems surreal right now. I have not fully adjusted yet and am not sure how long it will take for me it to really sink in.

All contents copyright 2004-2007.
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At 11:33 PM, Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

How about ANY frozen juice or drink? Or any form of broth that isn't a bouillon cube?
Blue crabs, oysters... this last may be here, but when they rarely appear they cost the earth and lie in costly splendor in their shells.
Rucola selvaggia is perennial, you know. Plant once, eat forever, but keep it snipped back in hot weather.

At 2:04 AM, Blogger Kataroma said...

I really miss good Chinese and Vietnamese food. Unfortunately my Asian cooking skills are nowhere near Gina's.

One thing I really miss from Australia and plan to try growing here = passionfruit. My favorite fruit but unheard of both here and in the US. :(

At 2:19 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

You must be really happy about seeing lobster(s) again, since you list them twice :) oh, how do I miss them.

We got actually very excited on our current Jamaica trip to have found white cranberry juice!!! That is something I keep missing.

At 5:56 AM, Anonymous J.Doe said...

Arugula (rucola) is very expensive here. So is radicchio. If I had a garden pot I would grow those. Good luck on yours.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In Italy we have the passionfruit plant, it's called passiflora. The one that makes edible fruit is called passiflora edulis. We usually grow them only for decorative purposes (the flowers are beautiful) but I've seen the plants all around in Naples, I had one in my yard and it grew very fast.

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gia Gina,
It's Dora from Baltimore here.
The branzino is the european version (Dicentrarchus labrax)of the seabass. I tried the seabass here and can't tell the difference. Sometimes men must be tricked, I am sure that if you cook the white seabass just like you used to cook the branzino in Italy your husband won't know the difference. Tell him you found a special store where they sell Italian fish, you will make him happy and he will thank you for ever! :))
Also tell him to check www.italiansonline.net I met a lot of native Italians around me and we meet often, talk to the phone and invite each other to lunch or dinner. He will fill less homesick.


At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried the Trader Joe's in Kirkland? There's lots of variety there as far as greens, great tomatos, and a lot of other (preservative free) cool stuff! I've noticed a lot of native Europeans shop there as well as people from other countries. To me, that's a good sign :) I bet you'd like it! Lots of kid friendly stuff, too!


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