11 October 2007


Tuesday morning I finally made my way to the weekly mercato on Lido, in search of some basic bed linens. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but if you do, the rewards are many. I snooped everything offered – clothing and underclothing, shoes and slippers, household goods, carpets, secondhand furniture, baskets, woodenwares, pots and pans, smallwares, sewing notions and buttons, ribbons and trims, fabrics, linens and curtains, tools, crafting needs, beads, produce, cheeses, eggs, candies, jams and honeys, breads, nuts, dried fruits and vegetables, olives, herbs and spices, even rotisserie chickens!, all at good prices.

A few readers will be glad to learn I came across a stash of inexpensive glass vases. I bought a tall one for just 4 euros. I plan to use it to copy a pricey lantern I saw in a posh San Polo shop last week.

But the day’s biggest reward is pictured here – mandarini cinesi. Translucent, candied whole Chinese mandarins, each about the size of a large marble. Bite into one of these: it begins like a jelly candy, but quickly reveals itself to be a complete piece of real fruit, all textures intact, intensely flavored and deeply aromatic with a familiar, bitter-citrus pinch at its finish.

Venetian candy specialists at Marchini sell me something similar – a candied clementine only slightly larger than this, dipped in dark chocolate – for the equivalent of nearly three bucks. I won’t even mention what Fauchon charges for same, minus chocolate, back in New York. I got six of these babies for about a buck and a half! I’m amazed I had enough self-control to get a picture of the last three! (And yes, I nicked those pretty leaves from a bush in a neglected garden on my way home from the mercato. Let’s call it “pruning.”)