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An American in an Italian grocery store
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
gusto italia
Let me take you on a trip to the Gusto grocery store in Latina, Italy. Gusto is like an Italian version of Whole Foods - you pay a little more, but the food is higher quality and the presentation is better. Why am I making an album about a grocery store? Because foreign grocery stores in general and Italian grocery stores in particular show a great deal about the culture and (of course) culinary habits of a nation.
italian pastry
Ilaria and I went to Gusto to pick up a few little pizzas (pizzette, they're about the size of a sand-dollar) for breakfast.
gusto bread chocolate
I'm easily distracted, so while Ilaria waited to talk to the pastry lady, I took out my camera to take pictures of the specialty breads. Umm, bread with chocolate inside.
normal loaves gusto
They also offer a large selection of normal loafs too. Yummy crispy loaves that Americans can only find in specialty stores in big citys like NYC are the standard loaves found even in plain old regular towns like Latina in Italy. They don't have any of that kinda crispy, but not crispy enough stuff that we called "french bread" when I was growin up.
italy roast pig
Then I saw a man cutting a whole pig on the table. If you look close, you'll see the pigs head. The man is cutting the right shoulder. Turns out this is a normal activity. They roast the entire pig. And then the man just cuts you as many slices as you like. Weird looking, but boy it is tasty!

You can buy the head for 5 euro. Ilaria's dad likes to eat the skin. Yuck, I tried it. It's too hard.
italian cheese
You want soft cheese? They have plenty of varietys.
prosciutto gusto
Ilaria and I buy a lot of prosciutto in Boston. We have three choices: Domestic (from Canada), di Parma (the standard), di San Daniele (a little more expensive and sweeter). Look how many types of prosciutto they have at Gusto!
hand cut prosciutto
They even cut it for you by hand rather than on the standard deli circular saw.

Out of curiousity, I decided to see how many rows of pasta they had.
pasta gusto 1
pasta gusto 2
pasta gusto 3
pasta gusto 4
gusto wine
And of course what Italian grocery store would be complete without a few hundred bottles of wine to choose from?
swordfish gusto italy
In the fish section, most of the fish still have their skin (supposed to taste better that way, but I'd prefer not to have to mess with all that). And err, they have an entire swordfish head sticking out of the ice for decoration.
gusto hidef tvs
I was also amazed by the technology in the store. Italy typically feels technologically backwards to me. But this store probably had 100 HiDef TVs hanging from the ceiling.
electronic price display italy
And the price displays are all electronically updated from a central database. Ilaria's dad set up a similar system at Sport'85 where he is the technology guru. What's up with all these gadgets being in Italy first? Why is America falling behind? We still have to print out stupid little stickers and update all of the prices by hand...
gusto italy hamburger
Well, at least in America, we have more than one choice for hamburger buns.