I smiled and kept walking on, eyes cast to the ground. I was in the foods section of the market, so I did not want to step on the tomatoes, indigenous vegetables, sweet and Irish potatoes, Omena, assortment of fruits, ripe bananas and more.
Every so often, especially whenever I noticed someone was watching me as I walked, I stopped and asked for the price, and last price of their food items.
The answer glared at me when I stopped to purchase Omena. I was the odd one out because other buyers paused to taste the offered Sardines before making a decision to buy or not. Buyers like to taste the dried fish for texture, taste and lack of stones within the head of the fish.
When I inquired if half of what she sold me was fish dust, she produced a bag of the dust and told me she sieved the Omena on arrival. My first thought was to ask how to know if that was from that consignment. I did not ask on remembering that local markets operate on trust. Though I asked a question when purchasing ripe bananas.
There are stories making rounds in large urban center, including a notice from the government Public Health section on dangers of using chemicals to ripen fruits. I made eye contact with the seller of the ripe bananas I liked. "How did you ripen your bananas, are they good to eat?
She did not break the eye contact. "I cannot do that. I use banana leaves and add an avocado to ripen them." Her response confirmed to me that she was aware of my fears on use of chemicals. That the information was not limited to urban centers.
I turned to her direction and spoke in the local language, an indirect way of invoking our food cultures. "I guess you know we don't do strange things to food."
She bent down and started arranging bananas in groups of fours. "We don't." A short response, yet full of meaning to the seller and buyer.