[I have to polish this up more for class next week, so any suggestions are welcome! But also keep in mind that it is a work in progress...]
My objective today is to search out the exotic parts of Florence, and even without traditionally exotic displays as colorfully plumed birds, bejeweled belly dancers or tasty tropical fruit, this minute stand has captured my attention, and mine alone.
The woman running the show is small, much smaller than the young man working with her, who is likely her son. She smiles the entire time I am watching, even as the grabby hands of the crowd snatch the white paper-covered plastic bags she is patiently handing to customer after customer, who devour the contents, leaning against the stainless steel of the bar before disappearing into the mass of tourists.
These Italians obviously know something that the tourists do not. No English signs are visible; there is no way for an American to discern precisely what is in these mystery sandwiches that the smiling woman is selling, yet somehow, they seem to understand that the advertised lampredotto is something to be avoided. They likely make no connection between the appetizing smell of cooking meat that wafts through the open window of the cart and the mounds of intimidating fleecy white meat piled indelicately in the displays of butchers less than 20 yards away in il Mercato Centrale. If they did, even the most gung-ho of tourists, sporting backpacks, aluminum water bottles, and Rick Steves’ guide to Florence, would be daunted by the answer to the question that no one will ask the woman running the stand: What exactly is lampredotto?
For the answer to this question would be likely to ruin any appetite: what you’d be putting in your stomach is cow stomach.