Thursday, January 10, 2002

The Turkish Market

[A text from the deep-storage archives]

The slanting pallets of fruit and vegetables are ranged around the edge of the sidewalk all along the perimeter of the shop, it is freezing cold and people are pushing past on their way to the bus stop, walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers, smoking. It is so cold one wonders whether the oranges haven't become sorbet. But the market is secretly an interior: When I walk past on the sidewalk, one of the vociferous salesmen immediately begins addressing me, not only a pitch ("Bitte schön, bitte schön") but already a conversation. To step under the range of the awning—which is extended only in rainy weather, but even on sunny days exists as a potential delineator of space—is to come inside. He weighs my persimmon and tells me "Pay over there," pointing to the end of the alley of foodstuffs as though the cash register were located not where it is (inside the shop proper, separated from this street space by a door kept ajar in all weathers) but within this same space that is neither inside nor out. Inside, the young man behind the deli counter feeds me sample olives off his slotted spoon, each time grinning over at someone beyond my range of vision as if this feeding of olives is somehow illicit—because I am a woman? because he is encouraging me to eat during the daylight hours of Ramadan? Most of the bags of prepackaged food are labeled only in Turkish—an outsider is an outsider, fremd bleibt fremd.

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