Monday, December 31, 2007

Striking a relationship with your grocer

I am vacationing at my home in Calcutta. In the last days of the year, I've been visiting the vegetable market and the fish market I had become used to before I moved to Mumbai.

I am getting to say hello to the fishmonger who had become a friend. He would never cheat at the weighing scale. He is the one on whom I placed my trust. I would sometimes buy fish from other vendors and have it weighed at his stall. If he said I had been cheated I would go back to the stall where I had bought the fish and claim the deficit. I would demand the correct weight.

During my holiday, I am getting to buy from my regular fishmonger again. Over the past two days, I bought from him katla, a fish of the carp family. I also bought parshe, or gold-spot mullet, and tiger prawn, or shrimp, from a woman, a stall owner who I know would never cheat.

Above all, during the glorious days of the waning year, I am getting to chat again with Ashok, my "sabziwala," who buys his produce from farmers he knows. His stuff is always fresh and tender and the best variety. I bought giant, brilliant white cauliflowers, peas in their pristine shells, and tomatoes that aren’t the hybrid variety available all year round. This variety of tomato, though somewhat pale in color, is seasonal, tastier and juicier.

One reason I am enjoying my vacation so much is that I am connecting again with the vegetable vendor and the fishmonger I patronized on a regular basis. It’s a joy to shop when you have a relationship with your vendor. Supermarkets, with their sanitized and spic-and-span environment, can never match this experience of clamor and camaraderie. What do you say, reader?


vimmi said...

That is what i miss the most in th USA. going to buy fresh fruits and veg, touching them, and talking to my reg sabjiwala about other stuff till he would measure and pack them.

Hermano 2 said...

Hi There

I am really enjoying reading your blog

I am currently in the middle of a world trip researching for a book called EAT MY GLOBE ( there is a blog you can see by clicking on my user name). I will be coming to Mumbai at the beginning of March and wondered if you would be willing to meet to discuss the food of Calcutta and India in general?

My family are from there and I shall be travelling there towards the end of March

Please do let me know by mailing me at


Simon Majumdar