Friday, March 26, 2010

From the Market at Winter's End

Just a few quick observations as I’ve returned to Ukraine for the next four months.  As I settle in, the Pickle Project encourages me to look more closely at the world I see every day.  In grocery stores in Kyiv, you can buy fruits and vegetables from around the world, at any time of year—the kind of grocery shopping that many of us, no matter where we live, have perhaps become too accustomed to.  Avocados, yes; eggplants, yes;  strawberries; yes.

But outside Kyiv’s metro stops you see what eating locally really means in this climate at this time of year.  At every Metro station, there are kiosks selling sodas and beer, the to me unusual purveyors of lingerie and stockings, and almost everywhere, women who come in from villages every day, with the ubiquitous plaid plastic market bags, to sell what they grow or make.

It’s just becoming spring, so what I see right now are edibles that have over-wintered:  nuts and pumpkin seeds, onions, potatoes, apples,  the red kalyna berries (a symbol of Ukraine), mushrooms,  cut-up orange squash, and these very small red and yellow items that I think are a sort of pumpkin or squash.  I was late for something so didn’t have time to stop and ask. Anyone want to make a guess for me?  [A one day later note--these are flower bulbs!] I even bought a tiny handmade Easter basket that looks like it’s made from woven cornhusks.

It’s a way of eating that many of us have forgotten—and in the case of the vendors (almost always women) provides important financial support for their families.  As for me, I look forward to seeing what spring and summer will bring.

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