I love grocery shopping at ethnic stores. One of my local favorites is the Baiz Market. They have some of the best Middle Eastern food in town and aisles full of the most exotic ingredients you could imagine. The first time I visited, there were families preparing for a religious feast and very happy at the gaggle of skinned goats hanging in the deli. I was a little startled. I’ve seen a wide variety of butchered animals in African and South American travel, but goats with their little eyes watching passersby was a new one. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten goat. Llama, yes. Guinea pig? I’m afraid to say, yes.* Rabbit, etc? Of course. But there is something about the garbage disposal nature of goats that makes me wonder how good the meat could be?
The spice aisle, however, was nothing short of delightful. Racks of cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne and even those that don’t start with C were screaming for my basket. I ended up coming home from my latest trip with two large jars of fava beans, similar to those I enjoyed in Bolivia, and a giant jar of fig jam. I love figs. The trees are beautiful, the fruit is succulent warm off the tree and the flavor tastes like honey bees made out with flowers. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with those preserves.
A little melted butter, some phyllo dough and a generous portion of fig jam =
A wonderful summer tart. We had this for dinner last night with friends and it was excellent! Three cheers for shopping outside of the conventional lines and for trying new spur of the moment creations in the kitchen.
* Llama and guinea pig are delicacies in South America. When I was working there, I often didn’t have the choice to ask what was on my plate. Instead, I got to enjoy a beautiful meal prepared with great sacrifice (which the children hiding under the table enjoyed by the sneaky handful).