We are well and truly back from Fiji and it’s now a quickly-fading but highly-perfumed memory.
You can get a real sense of place through local markets and Nadi Central Market was no exception. Bursting with colour and fragrance it was a highlight of the trip for me.
Fresh food is sold by the bundle (or little plateful) rather than by metric weight.
The pounded or masticated root of the yaqona (kava) is used to make the powerfully potent, mouth-numbing traditional drink that is found all over the South Pacific. The best kava is apparently made by chewing the roots (although pounding and grinding with something other than teeth is equally common) and mixing the resultant moist paste with water.
My sister-in-law drank some of this kava.
I didn’t tell her it might have been chewed beforehand. I’m a big proponent of the “try everything once” school but I just couldn’t bring myself to drink any. Pretty much because it might have been masticated beforehand.
Here are bundles of the roots wrapped in what struck me as a very Dr Suessian manner.
This is hand-rolled tobacco.
Smoking is bad kids, but I appreciated this for its deep, rich colour and smell and handmade-ness. I hear snuff is the latest thing in the UK so if I were a baccy-loving chap I’d be onto importing this in a flash.
The fish market was my favourite bit.
It was comforting to read this:
Each fish, or bundle of fish, is strung through the gills and out through its mouth with a loop of palm fibre.
To get that last photo I had to ask the fishmongers if I could join them behind their white-tiled bench for a fish-mouth view. They readily agreed. But it was also clear they thought I was insane. Made me smile.
I loved this.
I like to think the back story is that before she passed away, Mr Veera Swamy (Baaja Wala)’s beloved wife berated him every day for not being home from the market on time. “But there is no clock with which to tell the time ” he would respond. So this was his posthumous dedication to her. I wonder if he is still alive. And if so, sometimes comes to the market just to look up and check the time. And remember.
These are fern tips wrapped in banana leaves. I bet they are crunchy and delicious.
Love the way they stack the oranges into towers.
Actually, now I look again at the photo, I’m not sure they are oranges. They might be a native citrus?
That morning really took me back to the days when I used to wander around the fresh food markets in Rome, often perplexed by what I saw, but totally inspired.