I left the house this morning while Gal and Hagai were still sleeping. Louie had just come in from a night of carousing (Louie is the cat) and Mica and Jenny (dogs) were curled up on the couch. So even though I left at 8:00a.m., relatively late, I felt virtuously early. Is that a sentence?
I did make it to the shuk (open-air market) first thing. I prefer to go in the late afternoon, after work, because the prices are lower. But in the winter, by 4:00pm, it's already getting dark and that's no fun. Also more rain is forcast and it may start today.
The shuk during any holiday is especially fun. Everyone is saying "Chag Samayach" ("Happy Holiday") to each other, even the Arab vendors say it to other arabs who come to buy from them! Though the Arab guy who sold me my raisins, after he said "Chag Samayach" to an Arab lady, turned to me and asked "which holiday is it? Chanukah?" It is indeed Chanukah and the strawberries are out in full bloom, adding one more color to the already-colorful show. As always my eyes are bigger than my stomach--I always think to myself "I'll make a soup" and get all sorts of greens and pumpkin and then have to push myself to make the soup.
Walking around the shuk in the morning, you also have to wait sometimes....the vendors (the Jewish ones) often take ten or fifteen minutes off to put on their tefillin and tallis and daven (say morning prayers). As you walk between the stalls, you'll see an unmanned stall here and there and sure enough, a few feet away there's the vendor wrapped up saying the morning prayers. I'm sure the open-air markets of San Francisco and other places are much more sophisticated and there's more to buy. But I wouldn't trade mine for theirs. The vendors know me (when I come to my regulars they immediately say "oh, here's the lady who doesn't want a plastic bag. The greenie" and then they start telling me what they do to conserve) and often, if I stand around a bunch of people who are buying something, I'll catch recipe ideas.