One local spot that you must pay a visit to while you’re in Florence is definitely the Mercato Centrale. The Mercato Centrale is an indoor fresh market that is divided into two floors. The first floor is more of the “Mercato” aspect where you can find an array of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, oils, and bread. The upstairs is full of different types of restaurants that are open from 11 am to 12 midnight. The first floor, though, is the part that is unlike anywhere else and should be the reason for your trip to the Mercato Centrale. It is only open from 7 am to 2 pm because farmers and butchers from all over Firenze come to sell their homegrown products.
This semester I am taking a cooking class called Topics in Nutrition. My class is actually held in the Mercato Centrale!! So during my first class, our professor (Chef Marcos) took us on a tour of the downstairs market, and showed us all the best vendors to buy from for vegetables/fruits, meat, fish, and bread.
Fruttas e Verduras
For fruits/vegetables, he suggested the vendor right in the front because he is the only vendor that allows you to touch the fruits/vegetables so you can decided for yourself if they are good. He also told us what fruits/vegetables were in season, so we wouldn’t be tricked into buying off season produce.
Ah next was the meat! Here in Italy, meat is eaten in a whole other way. Instead of just having the breast or the legs, they eat almost every part of the animal. One very popular dish is called tribe, which is the stomach of a cow. Other popular meats are rabbit and rooster.
Fish is caught very near to Firenze, so there is plenty to choose from at the market! Every vendor sells it’s fish whole, but one vendor that Chef Marco suggested to buy from will filet the fish for you if you ask. (thank god!)
And last but most definitely not least…. The carbs. In Italy they call bread Pani. Pani is made in all different sorts of ways here, and is eaten at every meal. So, it’s basically like “pick your poison”.