Tuesday, November 19, 2013

the olive man

I bought a two-and-a-half kilo can of black olives and that large jar of amber-coloured thyme honey from this man, on the side of a winding road between Ayvalık and Troy. His stand was in a string of corrugated metal shacks which offered all sorts of other delights— pomegranate molasses, jams, pickles, and of course, Ayvalık olive oil. I'm a sucker for a smiling face, and it was his grin which made me his customer.

After the briefest of chats in my best Tarzanca (Turkish slang for broken Turkish), he gave me a little pochette of dried thyme.


dinahmow said...

Isn't it wonderful to still meet such people? Imagine the CEO of Safeway giving you either a smile or some herbs!

szaza said...

I keep thinking about that— the effect of the supermarket, the anonymity... When I bought the pumpkin that went into the pancakes in the previous post, I bought it from this lovely lady on the side of the road who grew that very pumpkin just on the other side of the road, in a little farm. She brought me down to meet her family, and proudly showed off her lettuce, which was growing right there beside me. She asked if I needed any, and because she and her family were so nice and charming, I said yes. Her mum walked over to a nice green head and gently pulled it from the earth, washed it with a hose, and wrapped it up for me.

That lettuce went into a salad, and I tell you, eating that salad felt so very good. We miss these connections at supermarkets where produce and other goods are shipped in from all corners of the globe— who grew those strawberries, and who picked them? How did they get here, and why should I need strawberries in January?

Similarly, when we buy a sofa at Ikea (I have an Ikea sofa), it looks like every other sofa from Ikea, and we are disconnected from the whole process of its creation and the people who made it. I also have a gorgeous bench that I bought from a man on the side of another road, who makes furniture out of recycled wood. To meet him and listen to his passion, see his shop— that made the bench even more wonderful.

I could go on and on, but really there is something so special about knowing where things come from, and meeting the person or people who grew it or made it!