Ugly Fruit

In Toronto, most produce is sold in supermarkets that tend to be large, clean, and heavily air conditioned structures.  The perfectly shaped and coloured produce will be set out in organized, visually appealing displays.  There will probably be at least four types of apples, pre washed and peeled carrots in small resealable bags, and depending on the store, a variety of fruits and vegetables which could never actually be grown in Canada.  Overall the shopper will have a comfortable and highly sanitized experience. 

This is not the case here in Rabat.  Supermarkets exist, and they carry a wide assortment of produce, but an equal variety can be found at small stands lining residential streets and alleyways in the Medina. The produce is set out on folding tables and in baskets sitting on the ground and vegetables mingle and roll around still covered in dirt. Each individual may have a couple of different products to sell; men with what look like large wheel barrels overflowing with cantaloupes can be seen set up with an umbrella alongside city boulevards. The fruit in the supermarket is sorted into large bins, but there are large discrepancies between the shape, colour and size of a given fruit.  The oranges are discoloured, the peaches bruised, and the fruit we have yet to accurately name is perpetually covered in blacks splotches. 

The produce here is what North Americans would consider ‘ugly’.  It is also unbelievably delicious.  The strawberries are small, sweet and very juicy. The peaches are incredibly tender.  The cantaloupe is to die for.  Morocco seems to have a much more sustainable approach to produce then many of us picky Canadians.  Food is food.  A pepper can grow into an irregular shape and still be considered adequate for sale and consumption here.  The onions have not been trimmed and washed, but they are bought anyways. 

I will admit needing to actively avoid stepping on runaway vegetables while walking through the truly local portion of the Medina required adjusting to; however, now that I’m acclimatized, I do not miss the air conditioning.   

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