soul food

February 5, 2011 § 6 Comments

Weekend mornings were created for the divine purpose of farmer’s markets.  A motive of “going green” aside, there’s something good for the soul about homegrown, local food. I could spend hours worshipping my way through the altars of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts. I always have sepia-toned vision and something similar to the raindrop banjo plucking of Bela Fleck playing in my head when I go to the market.  This morning I paid a visit to a produce sanctuary in the old medina of Kenitra with my landlord. I would have performed my ritualistic wandering from vendor to vendor if she didn’t already have her specific acquaintances. She brought me to her guys for vegetables, olives, garlic, and mint. The vegetable sellers laughed as I sorted my produce into separate shibkas (large plastic bowls) myself in the old Moroccan style, rather than dictate how many kilos of each item I wanted. After I paid, they tossed 2 lemons, a yellow and a red bell pepper into my bag, saying I should come back every week. The olive vendor was equally as nice. Though a hirsute face hid his lips and muffled his words, I could make out words like lehem (beef) and djaj (chicken) and realized he was explaining which olives are used for certain tagines. I nodded, secretly knowing I would just be eating them plain.

Content with the findings, I asked my landlord what the name of the suq was. “C’est pas un suq!” she said, as though the term suq was a piece of old gum sticking to the bottom of the shoe of an otherwise perfectly decent market.  I wasn’t sure of my sin, but I wanted forgiveness for using the term. “Ummm, because it has a roof?” I offered. “Exactement,” she replied, then continued to explain that the quality and freshness of the items offered in that covered area were superior to the bustling open-air suq markets. But that didn’t stop us from venturing deeper into the medina to buy fruit, dried herbs, and eggs from various carts and stands in what was, essentially, a suq.

By the end of the trip to Marché Houra (a mix of French and Derija meaning, the Liberty Market), I had stocked my cupboards with: 5 potatoes, 2 bulbs of garlic, 3 large oranges, 1 kilo of bananas, 2 onions, spinach, 4 eggplants, a half-kilo of courgettes (like zucchini), 4 green peppers, a kilo of tomatoes, fresh mint, several ounces of pitted olives, even more ounces of black, brown, and green olives, 6 eggs, a large handful of dried oregano, and ground cinnamon. An inventory like that made for pretty heavy sacks I had to haul upstairs, but with a total price tag of 70 dirham (roughly $8.49) I’m not complaining.  Now, who’s going to help me eat all this food?

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