Day: October 2nd, 2006

International Market

Monday, October 2nd, 2006 | All Things, Eats

On the way home from work, I stopped off in the un-monikered area, west and south of Port Authority (WaSPA?? SoHell? LoHKi?) to check out the ethnic markets along Ninth Avenue.

I was drawn in by the colorful bins of heady-scented spices up front at the International Market at 40th Street. Cumin, paprika, curry, chili and tumeric — all for just under $4 a pound? I’ve always been a Fairway-devotee, but this was tempting. There were counter displays full of juicy olives and intriguing prepared foods (I recognized the baklava), and a cold case in which sat a plastic bucket of… octopus? I spent an inordinate amount of time wandering up and down the (two) aisles, inspecting the shelves stocked with exotic dry goods, much to the bemusement of the three men behind the counter. I finally picked up a glass bottle of rosewater — maybe for tea or lemonade, or perhaps for baking… who knows?

International Market Spices

As I was paying for my lone purchase, the man who may have been the owner caught me eyeing these chalky-looking marbled wedges. Would I like to try? I hesitated, and asked what they were made of. “Nothing bad!” he assured me. “It’s sweet — like you! Just try.”

Just try. Sweetly clumsy compliment aside, I was taken in. I smiled my acquiescence and he chiseled off a generously-sized dense sample, studded with pistachios. I cautiously bit off a piece of the crumbly, flaky chunk: very sweet, nutty and powdery all at once. Not bad. I nodded approval, and the man explained that halva is a Middle Eastern confection, made of tahini, which is pressed into blocks with various sweet and seed-y/nutty ingredients and flavorings. The word itself comes from the Arabic root hulw, meaning “sweet.”


Maybe next time.

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