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Monthly Archives: September 2013

 

It's been about 30 years that Benetina D'Souza has been coming from Merces to the Mapusa bazaar to sell salt extracted traditionally from the local salt-pans. Earlier, she used to move from door to door in the villages to sell the taste giver. Of late, though she and her neighbour sell it opposite the Moddkeam (pottery) Bazaar, almost at the southern extremity of the Mapusa market. What's more interesting is that since the last couple of years of so Benetina has been selling pinkish salt, which comes from Gujrat. It's rock salt... much more saltier than local salt and almost four times costlier too.

We’ve been visiting the Mapusa Market every other day, and I find myself drawn to certain lanes and sellers more than others – those selling avocado, breads, brown rice – all the good stuff that I like to have but avoid buying out of sheer laziness from having to go all the way to the market. The local grocers and vegetable vendors in my area don’t always keep this stuff, and even if they do, there’s not enough of it to give you the pleasure of sifting through a whole lot before finalising on which one to buy.

Avocado

Avocado

The avocados come from Bangalore, I’m told. Which probably means the areas around the city; I don’t think Bangalore has enough green spaces left for growing avocados, though I’ll be happy to be proved wrong. I bought an avocado during the 100-rupee-dash game that we played in the market last week, but that obviously didn’t whet my appetite for guacamole, so I found myself prowling around the avocado stalls once again a few days ago.. And bought one. A second time.

Sweet Poyee

Sweet Poyee

When guacamole is around, can bread be far behind? A walk past the bread shops brought to my notice a new kind of bread, which my local bakeries don’t bake – ‘sweet poyee‘. Not one with a sweet tooth, I was apprehensive about buying this at first, but decided to try some out anyway. It’s not really sweet, just not as wheaty and coarse as the regular poyee. It has a smooth surface and is made primarily from maida (all-purpose flour). Went well with the guacamole though.

Past the bakery, I moved on to the pottery shed. Terracotta work is always interesting, and having tried my hand at terracotta work myself, I know the amount of effort that goes into making something from scratch, right from making the clay to baking the item in a kiln and getting it ready. Some years ago, while working on a similar project at Siolim market, I had bought an earthen jug from a woman potter from Anjuna. It was a nice piece of work – hand patted and shaped brilliantly – snout, handle, lid and all. Over the years, minus a lid and with some cracks having developed on its side, the jug was ready to be replaced. I managed to find this in Mapusa Market – an almost identical piece, but probably not made by the same woman. The seller at the stall told me that it came from Bicholim, and couldn’t confirm whether it was hand-patted or made on a wheel. The similarity is striking, as you can see from the photos.

Finally, there was the brown rice. Bought from the woman we interviewed on Friday – she comes from Moira, and sits with a sackful of brown rice near the vegetable sellers (though when I bought it the second time, she was beyond the fruit sellers’ lane). I also learnt that the handmade ‘cup’ that they use for measuring the rice (no balance, no metric system here) is made of wood from the jackfruit tree.