I ducked out to the shops late tonight to pick up a few basics. They are open till midnight all over the city. I bought a tray of strawberries on impulse because they were there, and they were so cheap, and they looked delicious. You have to really commit when you buy strawberries here, as they come in kilo packs, and a kilo is a lot of berries. They cost about ten Egyptian pounds – about two Australian dollars for the kilo. I bought eggs, which also come in a much larger tray than Australia, and potatoes, and because the bag was getting heavy I decided to leave it at that.
Outside the shop was a small boy, with a makeshift trolley with old pram wheels. He looked about seven in the light outside Saudi’s Market. Then I walked into the dark and he fell into step beside me.
Now I could write the Arabic and the translation, but I think it will be easier to read if you know that he spoke in Arabic, and I will write it in English.
“No thank you.”
“Very Cheap – only twenty pounds a kilo?”
“No thank you.”
“OK. Ten pounds a kilo?”
“No thank you.” However, I was now kicking myself for not buying from him as his were much fresher than the supermarkets, and he was down to the same price. He had only two packs left on his little trolley, though there had obviously been more.
In some desperation now he picked up both packs and offered them to me. “Two for ten pounds?”
This was really cheap – two kilos for about two dollars, and really big and perfect berries. Only the “What on earth would I do with three kilos of berries?” question was stopping me from buying them. I go to Kuwait and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in three days and I am BUSY! No time for jam making. No jars either – you never have them when you have just moved.
Then he moved into a patch of moonlight and looked straight up at me. His face looked small and thin, and I thought that though he was working at ten at night, he was younger than my youngest grandchild, who would, at this time, be tucked up and sound asleep.
I bought the berries. I would have bought ten packs. I also gave him five pounds for himself. Tucked into those two words was the fact that he couldn’t go home until they were sold, that he was little and underdressed for a night that was rapidly cooling, and that he had probably been walking all day with wealthy Egyptians and foreigners like me brushing him off as a nuisance.
I gave Bob fresh strawberry juice, and the rest will be blended and frozen. I buzzed them with the juice of a lemon, a little sugar, a good shot of Cointreau and the juice of one of the really luscious navel oranges around at the moment. I half filled a glass with this and an ice cube or two then topped it up with soda. It was absolutely delicious.
Just because I can’t resist, I am sending a few photos from the old Medina in Tripoli, in Libya. I still can’t believe I have been there. If you think I am peppering you with too many pictures you are wrong. I am showing unbelievable restraint. I took three hundred pictures in five days. Trying to decide what to send is so difficult.
I love getting comments on this blog – so thank you to my regulars who leave a comment. I can’t answer them directly – it bounces – but it is always lovely to know that I am sending this to real people who actually read it. And – for my good friend who told me to ‘ease up on the foodie stuff as I keep dribbling on the computer keyboard’ – well – enjoy the strawberry juice. I have saved you from the hotel breakfast buffet.
From the sublime...
Wedding carts are used to take the bride to the ceremony - or even just to take a tourist along the waterfront. They are bright with plastic flowers, and some are really elegant, fit for Cinderella.
...to the ridiculous
A more sombre cart, with lovely silver pieces
From the copper souq
These are intended to be seen from below - they are tops for Minarets made in copper. I have always thought of them as a crescent, and it is interesting to see that in Libya at least, they are a circle, much narrower at the top.
I liked the way the green in the wall echoed the verdigris on the copper. I think this is one of my favourite photographs.
Broken tiles on an old building