One Italian word that has become part of the Anglo-American vocabulary, so much so that we often mistake it for an English word, is tutti-frutti. We have tutti-frutti ice cream, candy, nail polish, lipstick, juice, chewing gum, shoe colors and paint swatches. Not to mention the 1950’s Pop chart mega-hit Tutti Frutti by Little Richard. In Italian tutti-frutti means all fruits and even though it may have been coopted to suggest a variety of non-edible likenesses, for me, it is a food memory of the kaleidoscope of colors, flavors and aromas of the fruits and vegetables at the open air markets (mercati) in towns and cities across Italy.
Thriving centers of Italian commerce, mercati are an ideal place to see and savor Italy. Together with the local fruttivendolo (greengrocer) you can find vibrant and fresh fruits and vegetables on display with care usually reserved for an exhibit in a museum.
Happy to help and generous with suggestions about cooking methods and culinary tips, the food vendors carefully select the best produce to present to you as the “fruits” of their labor. Shopping at the central pizza is a social and commercial tradition that is centuries old and an ideal place to experience the spirit of a town and the personality of the Italian people.