I’ve lived in Hargeisa for nearly three years, and learned a lot through trial and error and… more error. I can get around pretty well on my own, including at the market, diving in, finding what I need, negotiating a bit, and jumping back out. But there’s one section of the market I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around: Grain Alley. (This is a totally fabricated name that I established to reflect how intimidated I am by this place. It works, yes?). Grain Alley is lined on either side with giant sacks of legumes, cereals, and other dried goods. Vendors, all women dressed in colorful jilbab or wrapped in patterned scarves, sit perched atop their mountainous spreads , each sack not much farther than arms length… So, I’m reaching out, friends. Anybody out there a cereals/grains aficionado? Anyone cook regularly with these? What am I working with here?
An advantage of visiting a place more than once is that you’re no longer hostage to its sensations, or 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; 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. I found myself in this delightful situation in Tunis. I’d been just enough times to know exactly what I wanted to eat, where I wanted to visit, and I had designs to package loads of good stuff to take home with me.