Thanksgiving is almost here and I'm getting ready to cook some American dishes - mashed potatoes, pecan pie and cranberry sauce. We're eating Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house so I don't have to worry about the turkey, and mashed potatoes should be no problem. But pecan pie and cranberry sauce are not common here in Italy so the ingredients are hard to come by.
I went shopping this morning, but I never did find fresh cranberries (or even canned cranberry sauce). So at the suggestion of my friend Rebecca, I bought dried cranberries at her favorite fruit & nut stand upstairs at the Mercato Centrale. I'm planning on soaking the dried cranberries in a bit of red wine to bring them back to life before making the sauce...I guess Thanksgiving in Italy takes some improvising, but it should be tasty.
I also bought some really nice pecans from the same fruit & nut stand. The last ingredients on my list were light corn syrup and brown sugar - these sound simple enough, but just don't seem to be used here at all. So this brought me to one of my favorite international food stores in Florence - Vivi Market. It's located very close to the Mercato Centrale on Via del Giglio, 20/22 (tel 055 294911). In addition to all the Asian, Mexican and Greek products, they also offer American "staples". Some of these things I would never buy (i.e. pre-made cake icings) but some are a welcome taste of home (peanut butter, real maple syrup, Heinz ketchup, ...).
Today Vivi only had dark corn syrup (for a whopping 6,80 euros!). I need light corn syrup, so I chose something new to me called "Golden Syrup" (I'll give that a try for only about 3 euros). I think it might be a British product, and it tastes enough like light corn syrup that I don't think I'll even notice the difference in the pie. Vivi did have normal dark brown sugar (most brown sugar in Italy is not moist like we have in the US) - so no improvising there. Now I just have to start cooking...