At Obor, birjar! Come on!

Last fall, in full pickle season, I was walking around Obor looking for the perfect ingredients for the cover photo of the Sarmale Collector. Then I got terribly angry, but I said not to write in the heat of the moment. How warm, because it was hot. Here I am half a year later just as sad.

Am hesitant to join those who criticize the markets. In fact, I'm not even one of them - I like the market and I strongly believe that their destruction, even in some cases razing them to the ground, is a wrong strategy, most of the time the result of widespread corruption in local administration. I visit, almost without exception, the markets in all the cities I reach, I photograph, I compare the prices and the offers from the stalls. My eyes widen like onions from the seller next door when I see snails for sale in the market of Bitola or a camel's head with its tongue hanging out before our eyes in the bazaar of Fes. I have the same pleasure to start my day with "Serbian set" (pot coffee, rakija and water) in the market of Gornji Milanovac, but also with oysters and sparkling wine in Torvehallerne. Or chatting with the sausage seller in a market in Sarajevo, preferring the old market's antiquity to the septic new building in Thessaloniki, drinking sugar cane juice made from horse's muzzle in the market in Aman or doner at a ghetto from a Hamburg market. Or small at Tersa Obor. Or small and wormwood at Terasa Obor 2.

I am part of the group "Live the market" initiated by my friend Florin Dumitrescu, in fact I am a fairly active member. I protested when they demolished Piața Matache, and from time to time I browse with pleasure the volume about markets translated by Vasile Ernu. You get the idea, I'm already exaggerating. And yes, I have contracts with different multinationals, but they refer to different services.

I'm going back to last year's village. I went to Obor specifically to look for a jar of vine leaves in brine that didn't have a label on it, but they're hard to peel off, they leave marks, and I didn't have the time or inclination to thoroughly clean a photo jar. I didn't find it, but I did pick up some other ingredients that looked like they might be looking for on the cover: a row of different colored dried chilies, a small pickled melon, a red cabbage, two meaty donuts, and others that I didn't I remember them now.

I felt like I was being overcharged just for going to the market. Because I had the privilege of walking among the stalls. From behind the hills of cabbage and piles of horseradish gentle voices called out their offer and beckoned me to join their queue. Oral advertising is enough, the goods are examined only with the eyes and only the visible. Between the seductive call at the beginning and the tone of the gallant there is a gulf that could endanger the movement of the subway. Now you are no longer a potential customer but a hostage, because you just won't waste time in another queue for the same goods. I dared to take a closer look at the donuts and ask her to pick them out, explaining that I needed some specifically for a picture. The refusal was categorical, the rudeness just a bonus. Their need was far above my need. The money, mine. But already I was no longer the one who was making him safta or dever but an obstacle between the movement of the money from the wallets from the tail behind me to the marsupial pocket on the apron. The apostrophes continued even after my refusal to buy knowing that there is no understanding.

Burzuluieli were at all the stalls. I was not particularly in that crowd of buyers called with cheeky perts, considered a priori legitimate. Old men in canes hurrying to vacate the place faster, young ladies harassed by sexist remarks, beggars chased away by hair.

Eventually I found a vendor willing to let me pick out two donuts. That was only after I told him I was paying him double. He didn't blink when he took my money, he was just doing me an extra charged service. Somehow humanity had been chased away by the local police or lost in the labyrinth of enormous space. Who knows, maybe God likes small markets too, not just wood and churches.

I wouldn't want to generalize, but the other day leurda appeared in Obor. A bunch of cherries for the price of cherries - 20 lei. I took a picture of her, more jokingly, more seriously, the saleswoman told me that the photo is 10 lei. I smiled at him and handed him 10 lei. She didn't even blink when she took the money.

There are also many things worth going to Obor for. From the Aurora stand to the fish from Mioara, from Băcănia Secuiscă to Universul Măslinelor, from beef or pork organs to the mountain donut (by the way, where did it move?, is it still there?). Or for the market, but to go often, to build relationships with the stallholders, to enjoy "special treatment". Otherwise, it's easier to swallow the fussiness and cheflessness of the sellers at the nearby market. Naturally, I shouldn't generalize here either.

Photo: Flight © Onlyfabrizio |

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