Expertly Handled


Summer invites me to poke, press and squeeze.


I’m talking about fruits and vegetables, of course. 

I don't hesitate to sniff a tomato, knock on a watermelon, and peel back the top layers of an ear of corn to check out what's underneath. 

I think I inherited this affinity for luscious produce from my grandmother who loved nothing better than stopping at a roadside stand for fresh cucumbers, corn, tomatoes and a peach or two.




So it's practically ingrained in me that every week I park my cart in front of the fruit counter to peruse the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, all neatly lined up in containers at the grocery store. 

{It's not a roadside farm stand, but it'll have to do.}

I systematically rearrange the containers to inspect them before choosing the most ripe and delicious looking berries of the bunch. 

Sometimes I can’t decide because they all look so good. 




And I get a little annoyed if someone is behind me, waiting for me to move away from the berries before I’m completely settled on what I want.

So I can’t quite imagine not being able to choose my own fruits and vegetables. 

But I learned produce-protocol is a little more regimented in Rome than it is at home.

During my foodie tour this spring, I visited Rome’s oldest outdoor market, Campo de' Fiori.

Umbrellas were sprawled across the piazza, with vendors selling produce, spices, flowers and an assortment of colorful kitchen wares and cheap souvenirs.




The tour leader, Elizabeth, gave us strict instructions not to touch any of the fruits and vegetables at the stands. 

She said if we did, we’d be sternly reprimanded {and quite possibly yelled at} by the vendors. She told us shopping in Rome is different from grocery stores and farmer's markets in the U.S. that welcome buyers to peruse, touch and select what they want.

Instead Roman shoppers tell the sellers what they would like, and the seller chooses the produce for them. 

And don't even try to point out which strawberry or tomato or onion you want. You get what you get.



I found this puzzling, limiting and more than a little disturbing. 

What if my idea of a great tomato isn't the same as the vendor's? Why is someone I don't know in charge of my fruits and vegetables?

That night over dinner I asked Elizabeth to further enlighten me about these produce traditions.

She said you first have to build a relationship with your favorite produce stand seller and over time as you return to their stands to buy from them again, they’ll start giving you the best of what they have. 




She said it took repeated visits and many weeks before she stopped finding the smashed and bruised fruit at the bottom of her bag or the unripened vegetable that couldn’t possibly be eaten for that night’s dinner. 

One day when she opened her bag and saw the plump, ripe and juicy fruits and vegetables, she knew she’d at last earned their prize produce.

It’s about building trust. They're the experts, after all.



Trust can't be rushed or hurried in relationships, and it's the same with God.

It seems as if I've heard the assurances hundreds of times to take God at his word since his promises are trustworthy. Even though I know it to be true, there comes a time when I have to test it for myself.

And it is tested through slow -- never rushed -- times of questioning, floundering and wrestling. These are invitations extended. 

Opportunities to trust.

These times might be puzzling, limiting and more than a little disturbing, too.


But I think during a lifetime of building a relationship with God, sometimes I get bogged down with an all too-frequent self-introspection.

The connection with God is about him, not me. 

I'm not proficient enough to to choose my own way, so instead I'm contemplating him, whose wisdom is unfathomable and certainly worthy of my trust.

Eventually I'll have a fully ripened perspective, confident that I'm in expert hands.



I'm not sure I could ever get used to giving control of my fruit and vegetable-selection to someone else, but cheese is an entirely different story.

The Campo de' Fiori cheese-man ruled his counter with dozens of delicious varieties. 

He offered me a piece of his Pecorino cheese dappled with black peppercorns. It was rich and creamy and spicy, and I've been craving it ever since.

I think I'd absolutely trust him to choose my cheese anytime.




{A little note on the photos: they're all from Rome, most from Campo de' Fiori.}

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart.





Comments

  1. I'm not proficient enough to to choose my own way, so instead I'm contemplating him, whose wisdom is unfathomable and certainly worthy of my trust. - That part I read about three times....really made me think! I love you amazing pictures, Valerie. I don't know how I'd feel about this either!! It would take some major patience that is for sure, which is good right? LOL. God is always teaching us something. I am sure you handled it well though. I am glad I was your neighbor today over at Holley's!

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    1. Hi Meg,
      So glad we're neighbors too! It would certainly be a different style of shopping to adjust to - -maybe learning how to be content with whatever you're given would be the first adjustment! :)

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  2. I keep circling the cheese counters at Wegman's with no idea what to try so maybe I need to let the counter folks do their job instead of leaving there empty handed! haha! But hands off my fruits and veggies! LOL! What a great lesson to draw from your experience at the market-- we do build trust with God - as in every relationship- and we are not always astute with picking the right ways! Thank goodness we have such a good good Father :) And it is all about Him-- I've changed up my prayers lately and instead of jumping straight in to my "help me" list, I've been lingering longer in praise and adoration and worship of Him which never fails to bring a fresh perspective. Scrumptious pictures my dear as always! ♥ xo

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    1. Hi Heather,
      Yes, take some expert advice on the cheese and try a different one each week -- what fun - that's my kind 0f adventure! :) I think maybe the vendors at first intimidate you then you're so grateful to get decent fruit, that you're happy with anything! And I love your methodology of praise and adoration first -- such a great practice! xo

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  3. This post made me so hungry! I loved learning about the market customs! Thank you for teaching us to do as the Romans do!

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    1. When in Rome . .. it really is the truth! LOL

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  4. I would like a little cheese with my fully ripened perspective and, oh yes, don't forget a perfectly plump tomato! xo

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    1. Susan,
      Cheese, veggies, fruits -- it's all so delicious! Thanks for being here to visit the market with me! :) xo

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  5. Oh Valerie, your photos of the produce has my mouth watering! But to think I couldn't pick the best out for myself but hope eventually that I would get the best is a difficult concept to grasp, with produce or with God. Thank you for the great story along with amazing insight!

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    1. Giving up control is not easy but sometimes quite necessary and beneficial -- with God and in our relationships with others!

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  6. Dear Valerie,
    I love your new look here! You've been busy bringing us more beauty!! As always, just when I think I know where you are headed with your words, you bring in a thought that goes straight to my heart: "And it is tested through slow -- never rushed -- times of questioning, floundering and wrestling. These are invitations extended." He is never finished with the invitations to learn how to trust Him more, is He? Oh, so thankful for your encouraging words today, my friend!! Blessings and Hugs to you! xo

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      So nice to see you! You are so encouraging -- I can't tell you how much of a gift you are to all of us whose words you faithfully read! Thank you for your sweet thoughts about my new blog look -- I'm still tooling around with it but I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos! xoxo

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  7. Dear Valerie ~

    I love your blog's fresh look ... and speaking of fresh looks, your post has reminded me of my vow to myself yesterday to get to the store for some fresh veggies and fruit. If you looked in my fridge right about now, you'd weep.

    sigh.

    I leave here inspired, motivated, delighted ... as ever!

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Thanks so much for your kind words about freshness!!! And I'm laughing with you about your empty fridge. I can only imagine the lovely farmer's markets you must have up in your neck of the woods! xoxo

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  8. What an interesting custom they have in Rome. That would put me off as well. But you make quite a point as to how it relates to our relationship with God.

    Great new look for your blog. As usual, your photos are lovely and tell a wonderful story on their own. I always enjoy my visit here. Well done!

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    1. Hi Debby,
      Who knew that about fruits and veggies, right?! I'm glad I get to choose! :) Thanks for your oh-so-kind words about my new blog look -- I'm still fooling around with it! :) xo

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  9. Hi Valerie! I love your new blog!! Wow!! its so pretty! and the font is great and I love the set up!! So beautiful! :) !! Fresh new look for summer -It takes me so long to do things like this- I am so technically challenged and have trouble making decisions :) That is crazy about the market in Rome. I would have trouble with that. I am picky picking out my produce. I like it to be beautiful and the best I can find. That is so interesting(and would be hard!!) that they pick it for you. I would love to see that someday. Thanks for always taking us to fun places and sharing interesting things- as well as the things God speaks to your heart. Trust does take so much time and so much practice. And sometimes it feels to me that He gave me a tomato that is a bit too ripe- and I am disappointed. But then I find out that he knew that I should make tomato sauce instead and that I needed it that ripe after all! He is so good. I hope you are having a good start to the summer! Wonder if you are traveling anywhere or have other adventures planned! sending love and hugs

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    1. Hi Susie,
      Thanks so much for the kind words on the new template -- it's still a work in progress! :) I'm not so tech-savvy either but my friend Brittany is the master-mind of the blog -- maybe your kids are the techies?? :) I love it that you're picky about produce too (I just know we're somehow related!!) And I loved your thoughts on fruit and God -- I only wish I were as eloquent as you about the tomato and could have included it in the post but I'm so glad you shared it here! God does give us what we need, doesn't he, even if we don't recognize it at first?! Much love to you too! xoxo No trips planned at the moment -- but I'm missing your posts but imagine you're spending time with your lovely children!

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  10. Your pictures are making me want summer fruit! My Mom used to love shopping at roadside stands and chatting with the "little old man" there. We joked for years because they weren't always little old men, but that's what she called them.

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    1. Sarah,
      I love that story about your mom!

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  11. "These are invitations extended." I just love that line, Valerie. God's invitation is there for us, yet if we don't make it to the feast, getting in our own way, He still loves us where we are at. The invitation never expires. Beautiful pictures, and I'm glad I can pick my own produce when at our local markets! It's interesting too, that most likely if the vendor gave me something bruised and rotting, I wouldn't go back! Yet, in Rome they expect you to go back so you can get the good stuff. Food for thought!!

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      I wouldn't return to a vendor who gave me poor foodstuffs either but I think you just put up with it until you win them over - - kind of the opposite of how we shop here, isn't it? :)

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  12. In the photo of Elizabeth she looks like she is saying "Don't touch". The artichokes look so beautiful in the photo and were so delicious deep fried. - Mom

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    1. I think that's exactly what she was saying! :)

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  13. I'm loving the new look, Valerie! I'm not that good with letting go of control, either -- but like you said, these are the moments for us to learn to trust God, and that is so important. His ways are always better than ours, anyways. Thank you for this, and for the delicious photos! Be blessed, my friend.

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    1. Hi Ronja,
      Thanks for enjoying the photos and the fresh look! :) xo

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  14. Valerie,
    As usual this was so much fun to read. That cheese sounds divine and you have me wanting to go to a farmers market. Thankfully I already had plans to go this afternoon!
    I really like your thoughts on trust here. Building trust with God. It's a terrible feeling when people doubt you and you've lost trust. I wonder how God feels knowing we don't trust Him much of the time?
    Love you

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    1. Hi Somer,
      I wonder what types of things you have at your farmer's markets? I bet your girls just love choosing things too! I think I'm learning more about trust and faith every day -- one builds on the other (as with so many things) and it takes practice to do both!

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  15. Trust can't be rushed or hurried in relationships, and it's the same with God. Love the illustration you gave about the fruit and veggie vendors in Rome. We lived in two different countries, Bolivia and Papua New Guinea and they too have something like that in their culture. I loved it when I finally won over certain ladies in the open market in Papua New Guinea, they became a safety guide for me too. Often times they would warn me of pending danger, such as thieves roaming the market or a fight somewhere in the market. Because I trusted them because they were expert living in their country they rewarded me with good veggies and fruit. It's kind of like, once you are in, you are in. Great post. Glad I stopped by.

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    1. Hi Betty,
      Thanks so much for stopping by -- always glad to have you here! :) I just loved hearing about your experiences in New Guinea and the relationship you built with the market vendors. I think we crave connection with those we encounter at shops and restaurants and it's always so nice when we get to know them and we are known to them. I think that's how we're meant to appreciate each other!

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