Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chaptette 17: Variance

Who said "Variety is the spice of life," anyway?

a) Winston Churchill
b) Abraham Lincoln
c) Mr. (or is it Ms.?) McCormick
d) William Cowper

The answer, you correctly guessed, is "Who cares?"

If you care about spices, though, the Souq Waqif is the place to be.

There, you can actually say, "Nadim, how about two scoops of [spice name here]? To go, please."

Here is where knowledge of variety and spice would help. I think I can identify the cumin, and perhaps the turmeric, but after that I get a little woozy. Or is it sneezy. I do love looking at the Spice Range, though, and I imagine a little Harrison Ford (in his Raiders of the Lost Ark stage) climbing up and over one of the mounds in search of [nefarious enemy name here].

The spices in my apartment: Salt. Black pepper. Garlic. Soy sauce if that counts. Mint, parsley, and cilantro, if we count herbs.

This next picture doesn't exactly fit in, but I like it anyway: the vibrancy of the nuts, seeds, sweets, the mystery of the abaya (robes). I feel a bit sheepish about posting this, as some women in abaya refuse to be photographed, and I want to honor their preference. Since their faces aren't showing, I hope I am sufficiently respecting their privacy.

Craig and I visited the fruit market on Saturday. All the fruits and vegetables are imported, from it seems every country, in every variety. I bought some figs, but didn't like them. Let me know if you want them.

The wholesale fish market stank, literally. Here, the word "literally" means literally, unlike those who use it to mean figuratively ("I literally lost my head today!"). Craig and I almost bought some hammour (like a grouper, minus the Jimmy Buffet attitude), but since nothing was on ice we took a pass. Outside, under the awning, an entire school of shrimp shuckers were kneeling and peeling.

I like the guy photographed below. Don't you? He reminds me of a stoic watermelon.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable posting and photographs. Actually the first I have seen which triggered even the slightest desire to ever visit this place. Marketplaces I like. Indigenous ones are the heartbeat of a culture. Forget the fancy high priced shops and malls...this is where the real people go it seems.

    What an amazing spread of spices and seeds and who knows what? When I lived in Japan the smells and sights of the street markets were what made one of the deepest impressions on me. I saw food stuffs that I could never ever imagine anyone putting inside their bodies. I smelled the most vile smells and some of the most tantalizing ones also.

    A couple of years after I returned I was in a record shop with my parents in Boulder, CO. I had met them for a ski trip and I had also had an interview with the University of CO at Boulder for their School at Sea program, to be a counselor.... My dad found this record of the sounds of Japan. It was quite amazing. It sounded just like being there from the recorded voices telling you how to get on and off escalators or trains, street vendors, etc.. to the sounds of the children playing.. The language differences and the intonation, cadence, even pitch is just specific to that place. That was a long time ago, but some things make an indelible imprint.

    Oh, and I think your photograph of the women was very polite and respectful. Good for you to be sensitive to their culture. The watermelon guy would make a good painting. LA