Wednesday, July 23, 2008


My dessert eating habits have changed from cookies, ice cream, cake, pie, etc. in America, to fresh tropical fruits here. The produce store down the street always has interesting looking items and thankfully mangoes are in season during the summer. Additionally, papayas, coconuts, pomegranates, mini-bananas (very sweet), lychees and mangosteen are all available- and never for more than 20-30 cents each. I tried opening a coconut myself, and, one hour later, I had finally gotten through the husk, cracked open the shell (after uselessly hacking at it with a stone machete, I just smashed it against a stone bench)... and then spent another hour trying to dig out the nutmeat with what silverware I could scrounge up. Lesson learned: pay the roadside vendors with the giant machetes a few extra cents and have them do it for you. But its the journey, not the destination, right? Anyway, whilst I am busy avoiding the local badly imitated western desserts (ice cream = frozen bland foam, cake = NYC chinatown cheesecake imitations... Vinny and Josh, you know what I'm talking about) I am enjoying the excellent local produce before my return home in a few weeks...

Ubiquitous roadside coconut vendors

There are over 50 varieties of mangoes, and I think most can be found here... they're everywhere you look

The bizarre mangosteen (no familial relation to mango as far as I know, maybe the stepchild or brother-in-law?). Sort of like the lychee... more fun to eat than actually tasty

I found the big city market around here, replete with jewelry inlaid with Indian gems, Kashmiri direct importers selling pashmina and silk textiles (hand-sewn silk rugs in traditional Kashmiri designs that take two years to complete by the hands of two weavers... and only cost a few thousand USD... that means you're paying one weaver $1,600/year for his labor), marble-carved objects, batik cloths, teas (Sikkim, Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri), even bottled saffron. Any takers?

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