Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Perfect Vegetable Store

I've been cooking quite a bit with cilantro this week, since I bought a huge bunch of it. Every time I smell it I think of Mexico, but I also think of what used to be my favourite vegetable store when I lived near Kensington market, many years ago. Actually, we lived near Kensington market when I was 6 and 7, and I remember the same store was there then. I think that store is still there, although I haven't been in in a long time.

What made this place the perfect vegetable store wasn't just the vegetables, or the prices, which after all I didn't care about as a child; it was the smell. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful smell. I loved that smell, because it smelled exactly* like a Mexican market.

So what does a Mexican market smell like? Well, it's a blend of cilantro, way way (seriously way) overripe bananas, a hint of chiles, dust, citrus fruits, slightly fermenty pineapple and no doubt much, much more. I suspect it's a smell that isn't likely to appeal to anyone who isn't instantly transported back to a happy childhood by the first whiff of this odour. On the other hand, that store was (has been?) there for a long, long time, so I can't be the only one who likes it.

*Okay, not completely exactly. No urine odour. No tortillas either, for that matter. But pretty close.


Anonymous said...

Do you mean Kensington Market in England?

Ferdzy said...

Oops, no.

That would be in the centre of the universe*, otherwise known as Toronto.

*Tongue; cheek. Cheek; tongue.

Kevin Kossowan said...

I figured you meant England as well. Hah. Oddly, your post reminded me of how often I smell 'stinky produce section' on wines, admit it in company, and feel slightly embarrassed afterward. So thank you for that.

Ferdzy said...

Now, I'm just not really that cosmopolitan. Toronto may not actually be the centre of the universe, but I am writing from Ontario, after all.

Also, wine & produce stores both = fermenty fruit stuff, so why not have a resemblance?

I didn't even know there was a Kensington market elswhere, to tell the truth. I can't imagine it was like the old Toronto Kensington market of my childhood, full of Jewish delis and Portuguese merchants. There used to be live chickens and rabbits in cages all over the place, and dill pickles in big old wooden barrels. They'd get fished out, and come home in a plastic bag full of brine, just like goldfish.