By Rosanna Sumera, MA 2014-15
We can all attest that Italian cuisine is great and Tuscany may arguably have the best regional food in Italy. However, living in Italy will inevitably cause students to jones for other international cuisine in addition to American novelties. On Via del Giglio, two doors up from the Marist office, is an international store called VVM or Vivi Market. Run and owned by an Asian family, this international grocery store provides a variety of foods form different regions of the world.
The store is well organized, as it is divided by country. When you walk into the store, you immediately step into the Asian cuisine section. There you will find noodles, sauces, snacks and other novelties from Thailand, China and the Philippines, to name a few. In the next room, there is a wall covered in with novelties from Japan and in the shelf across that, food items from Mexico. So, for those who really miss your Mexican food (and there are plenty of you out there) you can find basics such as taco seasoning, chips, tortillas and canned beans. In that same room, British and American novelties can be found. Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting are available in addition to maple syrup and barbeque sauce. The room in the far back houses a deep freezer where one can find egg roll wrappers and other goodies. In the same room, there is an entire wall of Korean novelties. As you make your way to the register, one can buy various types of rice in bulk, a plethora of instant noodles, a refrigerator with Asian vegetables and lastly, dry seasonings. As any proper grocery store would have, just behind the register, there is a refrigerator with cold beverages. However, what makes this section special is that drinks such as Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke (beverages you cannot find anywhere in Florence) are available for 1.50 euro. Need to chips to go with that soda? No problem! To the left of the refrigerator is a variety of potato chips from the UK and you will definitely find a flavor that will satisfy your taste buds.
That being said, there are plenty of awesome finds for foodies and those seeking comfort food. One important thing to address is that this market provides the ingredients you need to make the food you crave, but not necessarily pre-made options beyond ramen noodles. So, don’t expect to find a microwaveable burrito – you will have to work for your meal. In addition, since it is a specialty food store, you will not be able to buy all of your ingredients there. The good news is that Mercato Centrale is nearby and so is the Conad on Via del Melarancio. Lastly, you may experience a bit of sticker shock when you realize that the cake mix you can get for $1.00 in the states will cost about 5 euro, 10 euros total if you buy the frosting (and let’s be honest – you will buy the frosting too). However, everyone deserves a treat once in a while.