Ziro Farmer’s Market – Maze of Aromas
Markets often hold little surprises in store, a trinket or titbit that captures the essence of the location and sticks in one’s memory long after leaving. What would that be in Ziro? I asked myself as we moved under the canopy out of the afternoon rain.
There were fresh bamboo shoots, dried yak meat on a skewer and wild cardamom pods whose aroma we likened to that of vanilla. Coloured corn, chickpeas and other pulses filled empty plastic canisters and an abundance of jungle roots and fragrant herbs were also on display.
At a stall in the far corner of the hall, a peasant woman sat on a low stool. She pointed at her tidy piles of leafy radishes and looked up expectantly at us. Next to the vegetables we spotted some small green plastic jars which, we learned, contained a local pickle made of dried fish. Hearing that we wanted to buy one, the woman enthusiastically wrapped a jar in newspaper which I slipped into my bag.
Later that evening, with dinner on the table, I opened the pickle jar and took a whiff. A briny smell enveloped my nose and the brownish paste smacked of salt. This was a taste, we laughed out loud, which would take some time to acquire. It was indeed a souvenir with staying power.