an advantage of visiting a place more than once is that you’re no longer hostage to its sensations, to its beauty. the second, third, tenth times around you might avoid being bowled over by the aromas and flavors, tingly with the aura of the landscape; this time, you’re likely have your wits about you, and that means you can make reasonable decisions about where to go, how to eat, and what to leave with.
[halva with pistachios, macademias, almonds]
i found myself in this delightful situation in Tunis. i knew just exactly what i wanted to eat (see here, here, and here for starts), where i wanted to visit, and i had designs to package up loads of good stuff to take home with me. thankfully, my Most Gracious Hosts obliged, and we headed to a few food markets and stores to grab some of the best [read: most transportable] of what Tunisia has to offer.
there were fresh markets and fish markets, where enthusiasts… er… debated the virtues of the trade.
and in case your pace was hurried, you might slow it down with some
there were fresh, soft cheeses, lovingly molded and infused with herbs,
and a special shop for all manner of dried goods, presided over by the eager Ouejdi,
perfect spheres had gaping mouths nearly overflowing
with nuts, beans, legumes, grains, even candies …
waiting for you to scoop them up and take them home to soak, roast, or crunch.
some stockists kept bins and drawers full of elixirs and other magic ingredients, or piled them in petit mountains where they couldn’t be ignored:
garlic, tisane, dried fruits …
and a most gracious flower market, hidden away in the belly of a trader’s maze,
and blooming with confidence.
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