We arrived in Florence in the rain. Tourists, umbrellas, puddles, guide books, maps and we were on a mission-lunch at the Mercato Centrale. To reach the Mercato you have to walk through the expansive San Lorenzo market and its booths piled high with leather goods in all shapes and forms-purses, wallets, coin purses, key chains, shoes and more. Were we distracted by the bargains? Not a bit. When you’re on your way to the mecca for food in this glorious city, who needs a deal on a bag?
The Mercato is home to butchers, cheesemongers, fish vendors and every imaginable Italian good product from pasta to olive oil, to salumi and porcini. There’s also prepared food so bring your appetite and be prepared to fight the crowds for something to eat. Of course there are pastries and panini, but there’s also hot food and that’s where we were headed.
On our very first visit to Florence we stumbled upon lunch at the Mercato. We knew there was food to be had, but didn’t know that you could actually sit down and have a meal. J. has memories of an incredible dish of sausage and white beans and always holds out hope that he’ll find that being served again. I, on the other hand, am happy to be surprised by what’s on the menu that day.
The crowd that day was immense. We got in line and figured we’d be standing there for at least an hour. It moved along a lot quicker than we expected and there we were at the register-ready to order. No, there were no sausage and beans, but the ribolitta would be a good substitution for J. Once I saw porchetta being piled high on rolls, there was no need for me to look any further. I savored every single bite, knowing that it might be ages before I ate porchetta again. I shouldn’t have worried, we returned the next day I couldn’t resist!