Sunday, March 11, 2012

Milk stands

Italy constantly surprises me...I feel like I never know what to expect. It is obviously very different that the United States but I was surprised by the differences just in grocery shopping {out on the economy}. Here is a quick list of things are so different:

-every afternoon, almost every single business {except the malls} close for 'resposo'. It's an afternoon break...that lasts at least two hours. Business hours on signs in Italy look like this: 9:00-13:00, 15:00-18:30. Note that even closing shop for resposo doesn't mean that they open earlier or close later. Restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations...they all do this. So living out in a small village like we do, well your SOL if you run out of toliet paper at 8pm. Should have planned better. And if it's a Sunday, well you are really screwed as the smaller stores, aren't open at all. 

-a lot of stores, will not take debit cards. It's cash business or no business my friend so you better make sure you have euro before you go to pay.

-milk and eggs are shelf stable items here...the dairy coolers are full of cheese, yogurts, some butter and cold cuts. Some places do have refrigerated milk but it's not a big selection and you pay for it. Look at the shelf nearest the cooler, you'll find it there.

-things come in much smaller quantities. You won't find ''club sized" bulk items here. In fact, you can rarely buy a 24pk of soda; they are sold individually. Milk doesn't come in gallons, but in liters. 1 liter and 1/2 liters to be exact. Eggs come 4 or 6 to a carton. 

-you know how in the states they are really pushing being ''eco-friendly" and shopping with reusable shopping bags? Well if you haven't hopped on that bandwagon, do so before coming to Italy. Here everyone uses the reusable bags and for good reason....each plastic grocery bag will cost you .05-.10 euro. I even stopped at a small toy store/gift shop and they charge as well, not just the ''chain'' grocery stores. 

-you will not find stores like Wal-Mart, KMart,'ll find grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, beauty shops and toy stores but the ''super'' stores are few and far between. The mall does have a store called Emisfero and it's the closet thing to a Wal-Mart that exists. Except you have to walk through security to get in and any other bags you have, will be sealed in a larger plastic bag to prevent shoplifting. 

-similar to shopping at Aldi, most grocery stores will require you to insert a .50 cent or €1 to unlock it from the other carts in the corral. Not a bad idea but it does mean you need to be prepared. 

So knowing all this, remembering that grocery shopping in Italy has to be planned and is not something you can do on a whim, has been a bit hard for me. I am used to going ''oh we're out of x, y and z, let's run to the store kids.'' But now if it's too early, we can't go. If it's resposo, we can't go. If it's after dinner, we can't go. If I can't find change to get a shopping cart, we can't go. 

Knowing all of the above is why I was shocked to find out about these bad boys:
That very poorly taken photo is an automatic milk stand. There are two refrigerated vending machines under that awning and in them, you can buy milk {either whole milk or 4%, no 2% and no skim} as well as several types of yogurt, cheese, butter and creams. I had heard about them from a Facebook group and last week made it my mission to find one. Apparently the one we stumbled upon is pretty high-speed. 
For one, It's actually on the farm. In the above photo off to the right you'll see hay bales. Next to the hay bales, are the cows.  I was fortunate enough that when we stopped the first time, the ladies working were there. One (who spoke English..yay!) approached me and was asking about the van. When she heard we were American, she chatted up a storm. She was excited about us having FOUR kids and no wonder we needed a van. (not common in all!). She was also kind enough to show me how to work the machine as well as explain how the whole thing works. Every single item in the machine, is made/comes from this farm. There are cheeses that only they make, that you cannot find anywhere else but this machine. It is apparently a franchise in terms of the machines and labeling (as you'll find other stands with this logo around) but the actual product is local. The milk is pasteurized as well, which I'm more comfortable with for my family. 

And the other reason I say it's pretty high speed is due to the above...while there are milk stands everywhere, not all are pasteurized. Not all sell other items either. Some you have to take your own bottles and then you dispense the milk into the glass bottles that you brought. This vending stand however, has the milk in 1L paper cartons. It's €1.10 a liter (which is about 1/4 of a gallon). It would come out to be about $6 USD/gallon. Surprisingly even the "cheap" milk on post is $3+ a half gallon so not only is this cheaper, but it tastes AMAZING. So much better than the milk from the commissary. This milk from the farm is fresh, it's organic and when we buy it, we're literally helping our neighbors. What's not to love about that!? More excitedly, the boys love the idea that they are drinking the milk from the cows that are right there. They could see (and smell) and hear the cows...when I explained that the milk in that machine, came from that cow, well I've never seen them SO excited to drink milk.

We buy them two at a time and it lasts about a day. Luckily, it's right by Bubba's bus stop so it's easy to get more. And want to hear the really crazy's open 24 hours a day AND the plastic bags are free! Convenience in Italy...who knew!? 

1 comment:

  1. That is so awesome that you can get fresh milk like that! Loving hearing all of your new experiences! :)


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