Milan in the time of Coronavirus: The weekly shop

Boxes of fruit and vegetables

Our fruit and veg delivery which arrived yesterday, Thursday 26th March,

Wednesday 25th March, I’m scraping the barrel on the food front here. I’m down to four fishfingers and a packet of frozen peas in the freezer, a fennel and two veggie patties in the fridge, a packet of red lentils soaking to make lentil soup this evening and 5 oranges.

As we’re not leaving the apartment, even to go to the supermarket, I tried doing an online Carrefour delivery last weekend. I was in the virtual queue on Saturday evening from 8:30 pm to 02:30 am at which point I absentmindedly folded my laptop and lost my place. I tried again on Sunday at 9:00 am. By 2:30 pm I could start putting things into my basket, but each item was taking so long to load I gave up at 4:30 pm. I just hope the Esselunga order I managed to put through on the 16th March arrives. It was supposed to arrive on the 31st, but it’s been put back until the 4th April.

Some people are still physically going to the supermarket though. This morning, for example, one of my students told me how he queued up outside for an hour and then once he reached the entrance, someone took his temperature before letting him in. He lives with his wife and three kids outside Milan. We spoke about stocking up, but as he says, there’s only so much stocking up you can do when your entire family is at home and everyone’s eating at least two meals a day.

In the meantime, and like many people I know, I’ve joined a whatsapp fruit and veg group organised by Rino a local fruttivendolo (fruit and veg seller). As I write, (it’s now Thurs 26th), I’m waiting for a delivery from him that was meant to arrive yesterday. I called earlier this morning and he assured me that, “it will arrive soon”. It’s now coming up to lunchtime. I’m scrolling through the group messages; one member, also waiting for their delivery, is asking if other people have received theirs. Some are still waiting but one person wrote, “ours has arrived”.

“Great, they’ve lied to me” the person waiting tagged onto the message. “I was told their van broke down which is why they weren’t able to deliver to my area. They told me they’d deliver first thing this morning, but I haven’t seen or heard from anyone as yet. I understand it’s hard, but why lie?”. 12:25 PM.

Rino’s reply, “We had three vans delivering yesterday and your delivery wasn’t in the same van as your neighbour’s. Deliveries have been going on since this morning, I’m sure yours, which unfortunately wasn’t the only one not delivered yesterday, will arrive soon. I’m sorry to have worried you, but we definitely don’t need to lie – it’s not the way we do business and it’s very unprofessional. Apologies again for yesterday, we are working on resolving these inconveniences.” 12:34 PM

13:22 client: Arrivate, grazie (arrived thanks)

13:23 Rino: 🙏🏻

13:24 client: I understand, sorry, mi era montato il nervoso (I was on tenterhooks).

13:29 Rino: Immagino (I understand) 😂😂

I’m waiting full of hope and nervous excitement, like when I was a little girl waiting for my play date to arrive, but this time it’s for apples, spinach and bananas.

While my fingers are crossed for the 4th April, I’ve had to find another option to cover the next nine days. I’ve gone for Mani’s, the kosher shop and just put in a huge order. I can’t wait for it to arrive. It’s all going to be kosher for Passover with kosher for Passover prices but I’m not complaining – he delivers, although when is the next question.

Still Thurs 26th. At 2:30 pm I was just finishing a Skype lesson when the intercom buzzed. “I have to go,” I said to my student hurriedly, “It’s my fruit and veg delivery”. I quickly grabbed my mask, latex gloves and debit card and waited at the front door. The delivery guy appeared also wearing a mask, much more hardcore than mine, and placed two big boxes on our doorstep. I inserted my card into the card reader (thinking of how many other people had touched it that day), and then quickly picked up the boxes and carried then through the kitchen, placing them on the balcony where they will remain for 3 days untouched – this is what is advised to ensure that if there is any Coronavirus germs, they will die within this time frame. Once I’d done that, I ran to the bathroom and washed my hands and debit card with alcohol.

“Siamo riuscite!” (We did it!) said N waving her arms in the air and we both started dancing and shouting for joy, and I’m not just saying that – I really did feel joy!

Friday 27th March. This morning I took a banana out of the box on the balcony and had it for breakfast. I also asked N if she had any idea when Mani will be delivering our order. She said she called him earlier and he screamed down the phone at her. She thinks it’s going to be some day next week, early next week I’m hoping, but I’ll have to think of another way round this over the weekend. If you’d told me four weeks ago that my weekly shop was going to be like this, I would have said you were bananas, but as you can see, buying bananas has taken on a whole new bent.

Online Carrefour food delivery

Waiting online, in line on the Carrefour supermarket website last weekend.

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