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Souk Al-min

Went exploring the largest souk (market) in Yemen today. It’s still called the salt market even though that isn’t really sold there any more. I wandered through the gold, silver, spice, raisin, shoe, qat, jambiya (the decrative curver knives the men wear here), shawl, and clothes souks. I had a shill, er, I mean guide help me find stuff. Mohamed looked like he was 13 or 14 and spoke English very well. He also claims to speak Italian, Spanish, German, and Japanese(!). He showed me around and guided me towards his friends stalls. I was looking for the “fragrance” souk, he showed me where it was, but there was a large, locked door in front of it. I’ll have to go back some other time, they’ll whip up colonges or purfumes for you and you can buy all sorts of insence and raw materials like frankencinse there… The most interesting souls for me where the spice and raisin souks. The spice souk smelled wonderful and there were piles and piles of stuff all over the place. I didn’t recognize most of them, but what heavenly smells… The raisin souk had more raisins in it than I had ever seen in my entire life. Yemen is famous for its grapes and raisins. There were a dizzying number of choices and price ranges. I’ve never been a big fan of raisons, but the only ones I’ve ever had were those ones in the red boxes… Sunmaid?Sunkist? Something like that… Most of them were from white grapes and they were all very dry, not sticky like the ones back home. The ones I tasted had much more flavor and “bite” to them than I had ever tasted. It was like I was eating fruit instead of, you know, raisins… I bought half a kilo of some of the better ones, cost be 800 riyals. The top stuff was selling for 1000-1500 riyals for a half kilo. It’s intersting to see that many of the raisins still have a small part of their stem left on them… Man they’re good, I’m going to go buy some nuts tonight…

Isaac

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