Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Country that Remembered Vegetables

I’m starting a new routine. Every Tuesday, I get up at eight in the morning, eat a cucumber sandwich in the breakfast room, and set out with my grocery bag. I make the long commute by tram, metro, and tram again to Kubanske Namesti where I follow a long chain of old people off the tram. The old people and I slowly migrate across the street to the park to the farmer’s market.

As I enter the marketplace, I see fruits and vegetables stacked in crates and sausages behind glass. The Czech specialties seem to be potatoes and plums, and apples are everywhere now that they’re in season. My mind is blown when I see a green cauliflower with bizarre alien projections. (My research has led me to discover that it is a Veronica cauliflower. Here it is, in all of his psychedelic glory.)

A man selling honey elaborates on the different kinds of honey and I nod and say “dobre” as though I understand what he’s saying. The only jar of honey I’m certain of says “flower” in Czech on the front, so I splurge for a delicious topping for my giant tub of yogurt. The vendor gives me a glass of “most.” I assume it’s cider because it tastes like cider, but if it has some alcohol content I can’t taste the difference.

I’m looking for a pumpkin that I can lift. There are pumpkin like squashes and various gourds to choose from, but the only pumpkins I find are the size of horses and would be an inconvenience to others on the tram. I find a good sized, pumpkin-like specimen that is half green and half orange. I ask a nearby woman with a pumpkin, “Jite?” (You eat?) She confirms that it is food.

With a small pumpkin in my bag and carbohydrates on the brain I get a loaf of bread at random and a few small rolls. My final splurge is a box of raspberries. I figure they’re so out of season that I may never have the opportunity to put them in my Czech yogurt.

This pescetarian paradise has a stand where you can purchase vegetarian Indian food, one for chocolate truffles, and fried fish fresh from the Vltava (which is a fantastic tongue twister). The pastries and cookies are innumerable and the choices that one makes between them are heart-wrenching.

Cuban cigars are available for those who actually go to farmer’s markets for that sort of thing. One can even buy a jar of chocolate honey cream, which Aztec priests used as a lubricant when removing the organs of their victims. I would want some to spread on my toast.

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