Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Discovering a secret side of Bologna

Bologna is a rich source of knowledge for SAIS students, who for six decades have participated in the life of the medieval city, learning about Europe and practicing Italian along the way. Recently three students -- Maude Morrison, Lisa Pflaum and Ayso Van Eysinga -- accompanied the nearby greengrocer on his morning expedition to Bologna's wholesale fruit and vegetable market.

It’s 4:30 am on a Tuesday, and we are waiting outside school. Only this is not an early morning study group but a glimpse into the life of a beloved Bologna Center neighbor: Kastriot Gjoka, the greengrocer.
Lisa, Kastriot, Maude and Ayso at the wholesale market
Since the week we arrived in moribund Bologna during the hot August holidays, Kastriot has helped us practice our broken Italian, boosted our nutritional intake and put a smile on our faces. From his tidy shop around the corner from SAIS Europe, he provided us with the ingredients for wholesome soup during winter and now in spring with the fresh asparagus and strawberries that would make our grandmothers proud.

But none of us can fathom the lengths Kastriot goes to to make sure our food is tasty and healthy.

"fiori di zucca"
Waking up so early was not easy, but it was worth the early start and the bleary eyes to get into his van and drive 10 minutes to the sprawling wholesale market on the outskirts of Bologna where he sources his produce.

The market is huge, a heaving metropolis of fruit stalls, vegetable stands, a bar, a barber and even an automatic bank teller. Wandering around and helping Kastriot load his trolley and van, we felt privileged to view a slice of life that passes us by as we sleep. We helped him load up on strawberries, oranges, nuts, asparagus, leeks, salads and artichokes.

Later that day, seeing the fruit we had picked that morning on his shelves, we were proud to have been part of his secret early morning life. And now we appreciate his cheerful demeanor even more.

Maude Morrison (BC14/DC15)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this post! What a great idea. Kastriot is the best.