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Dispatches from Armenia - Sunday at the Shuka.

Sunday morning and my kitchen is bare. I head to the shuka around the corner from my house to pick up some fruit and vegetables and whatever else strikes my interest. Before I know it, I’m mesmerized by row upon row of eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes, apricots, oranges, sunflowers, and buckets of saffron that look like gold. I could go on forever. I haven’t eaten yet and I want to devour it all. There are baskets of pears, peaches, and plums on one shelf, smooth and so perfectly poised with even their stems and one green leaf intact. They don’t look real.

I’d never had a fresh apricot before coming to Armenia. Now I don’t want to try one anywhere else because I know they’ll never be as good. I buy some of these, along with peaches, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, a cluster of basil. Then there’s the dried fruit. I don’t even have a chance to say (or signal) that I’ve spent all my money before vendors cut me sample after sample of cherry-wrapped almonds, and figs, apricots and peaches that are sweetened with honey and stuffed with walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and cinnamon. Before I know it I’m full, my arms ache from my bags, my fingers are sticky and I’m making promises to come back after I go to the bank. If there’s a better way to fill one’s stomach and cupboard, I have yet to think of it.

Erin -

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