This morning I ate oatmeal and coconut with globs of sweet, fig jam on top. Later I had some pasta with fresh, almost neon green, basil pesto and crackers slathered with made-this-weekend herbed cheese. After I drank some almond milk sweetened with cane sugar syrup and spiced cardamom before proceeding to a dinner of organic rocket with goat cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds. Total Foodgasm.
These pleasure filled moments were made possible by Lahore’s third Khalis Food Market, or Farmers market. Yes, Lahore! A city where there was an hour-long wait outside of Fat Burger when it first opened 6 months earlier is now in it’s infancy of supporting home grown, home made and healthy alternatives to commercially processed and produced foods.
For you Western readers, don’t get too taken up by the term ‘Farmers Market’ as I’m pretty sure that Pakistan, being unique in most things, also took an individualized approach to the farmers market. For one thing, there was no produce! Well there was a single basket of onions, eggplant, okra and cauliflower (pictured below), but it was un-purchasable since the man doing the selling was completely fixated on his honey. There was an amazing variety of chutneys, herbed dips, jams and preserves that were all deliciously sweet as well as ‘hygienic’ street food, authentic Japanese sashimi and ‘Magic Corn’ – a local chain that sells canned sweet corn mixed with margarine and powdered cheese outside of malls. Mmm..healthy. Of course, we also found the free-range eggs, hormone-free dairy products & meat, the BBQ ostrich, decorative ostrich eggs, hand ground spice mixtures, Desi ghee, local honeys, aloe vera products, dried teas, buffalos milk, ‘green’ cleaning products and some hand painted pottery. For having no actual ‘organic’ produce, it was one impressive assortment!
In true Lahori fashion the Khalis started in the late afternoon and was in full swing by the early evening; obnoxious loud speakers, swarming photographers and all. Along with the exuberant chaos went some general confusion about the nature of ‘organic’…
Student: Have some organic applesauce!
Me: Oh wow! Where did you get the organic apples?
Student: From my house.
Me: You have apple trees at your home?
Student: No, I bought the apples and made the sauce at my home.
Me: Oh. So, how do you know the apples are organic?
Student: Because I made it at home…Organic means homemade right?
Student: Oh. Oops…
Organic or not, the applesauce was delicious.
Lahore may have a ways to go (especially on the growing organic produce front) but they’ve started! And I for one, am incredibly grateful of their efforts.