Window shopping in Genoa

Shopping in the old quarter of Genoa is always a pleasant experience, as the warren of narrow, winding alleyways hides a multitude of tiny specialist shops, many of which are Ali Baba’s caves of exotic foodstuffs, equipment and knick knacks. Even if I don’t always want to buy the stuff, it’s usually fascinating to look at.

Whenever we have Christmas lunch in Genoa we have ravioli and insalata russa, but next time I’m going to politely request some cappon magro.

An interestng and slightly disturbing pork display. Vegetarians, avert your eyes.

I can take or leave shellfish as a dish, but the colour of this display really caught my eye. They’re not branzini; that’s the fish in the background.

We stopped for a coffee. The “restroom” featured this intriguing set-up. My wife thinks the shower head is for the cleaner to clean the floor. I think it’s for the customers, because they didn’t have room to install a bidet.

Now wash your hands. Using only the finest English sheep soap, if you please.

However all is not cuteness and tradition in the streets of Genoa. Since my last visit there’s been a disturbing development: “automatic shops” taking the place of real shops. These alcoves containing a selection of Japanese-style dispensing machines have multiplied rapidly, most upsettingly occupying the space formerly used by a little secondhand book and CD shop just around the corner from our flat.

I shudder to think what the lasagne and cannelloni taste like.

Ginseng coffee is all the rage, but machine coffee never tastes any good, whatever the flavouring.

Back to something a little more healthy and locally produced. Fried, battered courgette flowers are one of the things I miss about my mother-in-law’s cooking. Besides, look how cute they are!

The fresh pasta shop on Via Cannetto il Lungo has the most mouth-watering display of pesto, although my mother-in-law’s home-made version tastes the best.

And finally, something we did, in fact, buy. Walnut sauce for the pansoti we ate with friends back in Brussels on January 1st.