During the Spring 2012 I taught one of many interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars in the Experimental Study Group at MIT. Each class is based on the preparation of a simple delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture.
Videography by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

Click here to watch the videos in full resolution.
Buon divertimento!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Lezione numero dodici: andare a fare la spesa

For the complete video click here!

Benissimo! By now you can cook a full Italian meal...but how about grocery shopping?
Andare a fare la spesa lit means "to go to do the shopping".
Let's conjugate the indicative present of the  irr. verb andare:

(io) vado

(tu) vai

(lui/lei) va

(noi) andiamo

(voi) andate

(loro) vanno

So, quando andate a fare la spesa in Italia, you have many choices: you can go al supermercato or to
a mercato or a small alimentari or specialty store.
In any case you should keep in mind that i negozi chiudono presto (the stores close early, usually by 8 pm or earlier) e molti negozi sono chiusi (are closed) la domenica. The smaller stores have shorter opening times,  and they may be closed for a few hours il pomeriggio. It is better to check!

Se vai al supermercato (= grocery store) there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

1) Hai bisogno di uno o due euro per prendere (= to take) il carrello (=the cart)
2) Non toccare (= do not touch) la frutta e la verdura, they provide disposable plastic gloves
3) Devi pesare (=[you] must weight) la frutta e la verdura con la bilancia
4) Devi mettere (=to put) la spesa nel sacchetto (or borsina = plastic bag) da sola/o (on your own) e devi pagare (=to pay) per i sacchetti (pochi centesimi)

Al supermercato ci sono molti reparti (sectors): panificio (=bakery), reparto formaggi e salumeria (cheese and cold cuts area), macelleria (butcher's shop), pescheria (fish shop),...

If you ask for 100 g of something, you may say 1 etto (short for ettogrammo) instead. 

100 grammi = 1 etto 
E.g. Quanto costa un etto di prosciutto? (=how much does one etto of prosciutto cost?)
1 chilogrammo = 1 chilo  
E.g. Vorrei un chilo di mele, per favore. Quanto costano?

If you prefer to try the smaller shops, you will need to go from the alimentari (small grocery shop, usually more expensive) to il panificio, il macellaio, il fruttivendolo (fruit shop), la pescheria.
It can be fun to find some local products.

Ma se vai a fare la spesa in Italia, do no miss il mercato del paese o del quartiere (the open air
 market of the town or of the neighborhood): it is usually once per settimana, in the morning and it is a full immersion in smells, noises and flavors. Remember: you can always ask to try/taste  (= provare) something before you buy it and do not hesitate to haggle for everything. Buon divertimento!


  1. Hi, will these lessons be available on video? The MIT TechTV isn't updated since lesson 5.

    1. Sì! Tutte le lezioni saranno (will be) on MIT TechTV by the end of the Summer, hopefully sooner =)