Last night we all went to the weekly farmers market in Pachmarhi. I am told that it is only a few years old, but given the size of it and the congregated crowd, it’s a hit! There were middle class tourists from cities and poor tribals from out of town and locals including Father Claude, the wait-boys from our restaurant and the Sikh man who sold us mosquito netting. The produce is grown in the valley (Pachmarhi is in the mountains) and brought to the edge of the city and sold to the vendors in the market.
My favorite vendor was a man selling garlic, ginger and chili--the three base ingredients of every Indian curry. My second favorite was the man selling dal (lentils) of every shape, size and color. I knelt down plunged my hand into the pile and ran the dal through my fingers. And then there was the spice man who had piles of fragrant powders and seeds arranged in colorful array around him. Sreedhara, a conference attendee and professor at a university in Bangalore nicked a piece of cinnamon bark and gave it to me to chew. Sweet and softly spiced, it was a perfect piece of candy.
I positively drooled over the fresh vegetables. My fingers itched to take home the pearly cauliflowers and purple mustards and shiny green eggplants. I haven’t been homesick once during the past two weeks, but in the moment of looking at all these beautiful vegetables, I positively wept for my kitchen. Any kitchen. Language to haggle. Shopping bag to put on my head and carry home. Sharp knives and cutting board. Gas stove and stainless steel pots. Spicy fragrance filling the house and floating out into the street. Come in and share.