We have only been back for a few days and the larder was more than bare. Thursdays the shops are only open half a day so I was up at dawn – well, 8:00 – to start foraging. Not being totally insane my first stop was Bar Elimar for a cappuccino and brioche.
Dov’è Jack? Where’s Jack? Repeated the chorus at the bar.
Let us get the “where’s Jack” part of the story over. Cripes, without Jack at my side I am chopped liver. After my coffee, I went to the hardware store. “Where’s Jack?”. Next I stopped at Conad, our little local supermarket. “You’re solo today? Where’s Jack?” The fruits and vegetable store, the place to buy agricultural stuff, the butcher. “Dov’è Jack!” I have that phrase memorized. Thank you merry questioners for today’s basic lesson in how important Jack is to the village. Well, I always knew that, but it was kind of cool to have it reinforced. He is the smiling part of this couple. Actually, the queries about Jack reinforce today’s theme. Shopping is social.
The check out people at the super supermarkets where I shop in New Jersey smile and are courteous but never ask me “where’s Jack?” No one leans over the counter or comes around the counter just to gossip about the weather, life or what is happening in the world.
Today’s foraging had me socially interacting, entertained and paying prices that were so low that I had a hard time not saying they were a mistake. At the Ferramenta, hardware store, the owner and I had a nice chat while he spent time adjusting, cleaning and putting a battery in the remote control for our giant electric gate. We talked about a friends cruise, laughed at the electrical tape that held my remote together, and spent time as neighbors. Repaired remote plus battery – €1.50.
Next stop, Fresh Fruits, for incredible Italian oranges, lettuce, cucumbers, red onions, peppers and I don’t know what else I spent €5.50. Nicola, The young woman who owns the store is always working alone, spends time chatting with each customer and puts a smile on my face.
Jack calls Conad, “the supermarket that time forgot.” Actually, if you didn’t know it was hidden down an alley you wouldn’t know it was there. No sign, not a flag, nothing, niente to let you know it exists. Trucks are constantly unloading supplies for this tiny full service grocery store. It may not have a sign but the three women who work there, make the experience so pleasant that people visit once a day. Imagine, the manager today asked me if I wanted “un buon caffè.” She was going to make me a coffee. I spent about €50 but bought three bottles of Prosecco, a bottle of Jack Daniels, butter, eggs, tuna, canned tomatoes – three bags full of stuff. After dragging the stuff to the car, I was off to the baker, agricultural store and butcher. Each place made me feel like family.
My last stop was a tiny little wooden building in neighboring Morcone. Pecorino Del Sannio only makes and sells cheeses made with sheep’s milk. I had only been there twice four months ago and yet the owner asked,”How did my cheese carry to New Jersey?” We tasted her latest creation, lemon flavored sheep’s milk aged cheese soaked in Aglianico ( a red local wine.) Delish. I bought a hunk. I wanted my cousin Carmella to try the cheese so I bought her a pound. Then I bought a lot more. Before I got the bill she asked if I wanted to taste her sweets. Who could say no? She then proceeded to gift me a huge pecora ricotta and pistachio dessert. This enjoyable outing cost me €31.
To some, shopping in small shops on a daily basis may seem like a throwback to 1950. It may be, or it may be that a life style that rewards conversation, personal service and inclusion is worth keeping.
12 thoughts on “Shopping is Social”
Oh how I miss little village life. It may be a throwback but it is a community that sustains all of us. Thank goodness for my neighbors here check in each day but I do envy Midge and Jack and love that little village.
Reading this made me hungry.
Glad you’re experiencing the warmth of such a friendly community; it sounds wonderful…and those cheeses! Didn’t know about that shop in Morcone; must visit it.
Thanks for the shopping trip! It reminded me of the times growing up in Little Italy, Manhattan. My Mom would send me to the store almost daily. Be it the butcher, grocery store, the push carts on Mott Street or to the bakery. Great times growing up. Thanks for the memories.
It is this that we love about Italy! The human approach to life, the way people relate to each other, communicating and empathizing with others is what makes life worthwhile. Italians know this.
P.S: those cheeses look delicious!
Sounds like a wonderful little town. Loved the book. My neighbor is reading it now and enjoying it.
Thank you so much!
First off, Buon Compleanno oggi, Midge, Happy Birthday today! Tantissimi auguri!!
You’re spot on as always about life in Pontelandolfo! Soul-satisfying and so much fun to connect with people here.
FOLKS: Midge and Jack are extremely well-respected and appreciated in this town and beyond! Wherever Jeff and I go, whenever we meet the residents and locals for the first time, they ALL know Midge and Jack and are highly complimentary for what they’ve done to enhance life and living in this lovely spot in Italy.
What a gift, what a couple!! :))))))))
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Wow! Thank you for the kind words.
Where WAS Jack ?
Ah, THE question of the day! Home sleeping.
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Mani gli canni !!!
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