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A Thousand Days in Venice

Book Review - Page 3
Continued from page 2

The Rialto Markets

"I'd always found time to stroll the markets at the Rialto during past visits to Venice, thinking it charming if not quite as splendid as other of Italy's mercati. Now, though, it is my own, and I want to know it as an intimate. The first thing to discover is how to enter the marketplace from the backstreets rather than from the bridge and its avenue of silver and jewelry shops, kiosks hung with cheap masks and cheaper T-shirts and wagons that lure tourists with waxed apples and Chilean strawberries and cracked coconuts bathing in plastic fountains. It is further down the row that wagonsful of fruits and vegetables announce the market's genuine seductions. And hidden behind these sits the handsome edifice of the sixteenth-century tribunal of Venice.

"...The shoppers are mostly women, housewives of all ages, all physical proportions, and a rather universal voice pitched somewhere beyond a scream. They propel carrelli, market carts, lined in large plastic bags, and one is convinced, fast and well, to stay clear of them. There are clusters of old men engaged in--among other things--the sober trade of arugula and dandelion greens and other bouquets of wild grasses tied up with cotton string. The farmers are sublime hucksters, rude, sweet, mocking.They are showmen taunting in slippery dialect and theirs is a whole other language for me to learn. 'Ciapa sti pomi, che xe cosà bei.' What's he saying? He is offering me a slice of apple? 'Tasta, tasta bea mora; i costa solo che do schei.' Taste, taste, pretty black-haired lady; they cost so little."

A Thousand Days in Venice
Copyright © 2002 by Marlena de Blasi

Excerpt 3: Cooking an American meal for Venetians

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Review of Marlena de Blasi's book
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