01 April 2010

AUNTIE PASTA: Eataly Easter

TORINO, Italy - Is it possible to lust after a food market slash eatery? I certainly hope so because I am head over heels in love with Eataly, Turin’s latest food wonderstore. I knew I would be, it doesn’t take much to get me going about food, so when my cousin Ginny asked me if I knew anything about Eataly, my little ears perked up.

She said someone she knew had just come back from Turin and told her Eataly was fabulous. Was I interested in checking it out?
What kind of a question was that? Does a cat like catnip? Does a bear like honey? Am I not already standing by the door ready to go? Oh yes.

Eataly is a sprawling new-wave food market in Turin where you can buy fresh fish, meat, vegetables, bread, pasta and rice, coffee, spices, chocolate and sweets, housewares and dozens of other food related things, including wine from a fully stocked wine cellar where you can taste the wines before you buy, and a food university for dedicated foodies.

The beauty of Eataly, apart from the physical beauty of the products and their packaging, is that everything sold here is in season, grown or raised near-by. The store specializes in finding small Italian producers, who you can often see at Eataly delivering their goods, meeting customers and participating in one of the market’s two teaching kitchens. And if it is an imported product, it is protected by the Terra Madre group of the Slow Food organization.

If you get hungry while you are looking around, and you can’t help but get hungry, you can sit and eat at one of the nine areas serving food within the market. Ginny tends to forget about little things like eating but when my stomach started to make nasty growling sounds loud enough for people to notice, even she figured out it was time for lunch. 

While she went off to see what pasta dishes looked interesting I twirled around for another five minutes or so trying to decide what I wanted. It was time to declare my choice. It wasn’t easy. Up to this point every food counter we passed was like an encounter with the Sirens Ulysses was warned about, those seductive nymphs who so charmed the sailors of old that the besotted boys threw them-selves into the sea to follow them, only to die. In the end I dove into a large plate of the steamed mussels in white wine with garlic and parsely.

After lunch we wandered over and watched how the large chocolate eggs Italians favor for Easter are made. The eggs all have ‘surprises’ in them, and I always wondered just how they got those things in there. And since the Italians are, well, so Italian, more than one romantic young Romeo has proposed to his fidanzata with an engagement ring slipped into an innocent looking chocolate Easter egg. 

Before going back to our hotel, we stopped at the Eataly bookstore where Ginny bought a couple of beautiful children’s books for her granddaughters and I sat in one of the easy chairs with a pile of cookbooks on my lap, dreaming of all the things I could make if only I could put my bed in a corner and live in Eataly forever. 

Eataly: Via Nizza,Torino Lingotto, Italy http://www.eataly.it/
Photos: (1) Eataly: Cousin Ginny and her Easter egg, (2) Eataly: part of the meat section, (3)Eataly: one of the many food counters, (4) Eataly: Wrapping up Easter Eggs; (5) Buona Pasqua a tutti.

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