After a long hiatus, I’m back online. In part, the recent political protests and changes in Tunisia and Egypt – and their impact on Yemen – has contributed to the silence. For work reasons, I can’t give a detailed political analysis of what it’s like here, but things seem to have changed considerably in one week, and the opposition appears to have accepted the president’s recent concessions. All’s quiet on this (middle) eastern front.
In the meantime, I’ve begun settling in more and more to my apartment. And for me, settling in means cooking for friends. The fascinating thing about cooking here is the scavenger hunt you get to engage in to find the ingredients you need. This makes finding that special something (a wedge of grana padana or a bottle of balsamic vinegar) incredibly satisfying.
The other thing cooking here does is it gets me out and exploring different neighborhoods. Like the fish market (souk al samak), for example. These photos are from Thursday’s venture. The photos don’t capture the craziness of the shouting and jostling that occurs, or the intense smell generated by 20 stalls of fishmongers in one concentrated area.
For all of the chaos, though, the market has a great energy. And, although I haven’t been to it yet, there apparently is an outdoor restaurant adjacent to the market where you can take the fish you just bought and have them cook it for you in these gigantic clay ovens. I settled on this stall for my fish. The colors are amazing – especially on the blue crabs. Unfortunately, other than flounder and shark (both of which are hard not to recognize) I have no idea what kind of fish is lying before me. If anyone out there can help me out with some identifications, I’d really appreciate it!
I ended up choosing this pink mystery fish for our dinner. Paired it with two pounds of shrimp for a scampi appetizer.
On the way out of the marketplace, I stopped for some vegetables. I passed by this stand and landed up going to this guy. He sold me something in the squash family, but I ended up not using it. Just a little too mushy and weird when I got it home. I think there are a bunch of fruits and vegetables like this that I have never encountered before and for which I’m best off consulting my Yemeni friends. The funny thing about looking at the first photo of the stall I passed up is recalling my first blog post. I believe Damir responded that I would eventually stop seeing the ugliness and dirt. Looking at this photo I realize that ugliness and dirt are likely all any of you will see. But until I looked at the photo, I didn’t. Funny what a difference a couple of months can make and how quickly your eye adapts to the glare of the ugly and filters it out.
Anyway, I spent the rest of the day yesterday cooking. And all in all, the night was really nice – and the last guests didn’t leave until almost 2:00! The only thing that would have made it better was if there was a way to share it with all of you.