Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Public Performance

It only took two weeks of frequenting the farran (public oven) daily to hit the red brick wall at the end of that path. The mool’l farran, a fresh replacement for my favorite old man ever (now fled to Placa Toro) has also been acting as my dealer for various gems from the neighborhood: peanut cookies, abandoned bread loaves, moroccan pizza / caliente (ironically always cold somehow), Abdullah’s mint tea, and lately the gargantuan black bookshelf donated to the oven from the mosque, to cut up and use as fuel for the fire. Men, boys, and children wandering the street with nothing better to do come by to chat or smoke, and this way I have secured a handful of neighbors willing to guide me through the process of preparing whichever mythical-looking fish I purchased that morning from the market uphill from the Socco. I am careful to follow these instructions exactly, since they will all see the finished product and probably by smell alone be able to tell if I failed in my endeavor. This is the trouble with public-cooking. Inevitably, you will be judged. As an American I am expected to be incompetent, but since taking the Ana Hindaweea route, I have a reputation to uphold.
Performance wise, I would say the mool’l’farran is probably a religious man- he never lets me take food with my left hand, often abandons CapRadio for Quranic recitation, and prays on a warm blanket behind a wood pile. I can understand that my visits and photographs might convey a certain sentiment, and so when he vaguely asked me to enter into a non-baked-good-related relationship, I tried to be as nice as possible in my refusal. Instead of the usual smug “why/why not?” he looked away in embarrassment and possible shame, a smeHlna, avoiding eye contact with the other men in the room. They all seemed shocked that I wasn’t interested, assuming that this is what I was after all along in the guise of cakes and cookies and disastrous fish tagines. I awkwardly handed him the dirhams I owed for the use of the fire and headed back across the street to my home.
I could retreat, seeking out the "old mool" in the maze of Place Toro streets, in my usual way, showing passers by his photo asking "have you seen this man? Which way did he go?" but I am tough like all American girls, as they say, and I refuse to let this deter me from spending the occasional rainy and windy Tangier afternoon in this warm and safe place, warm from the fire and safe because bread is baking just behind me, and there are trays of cookies to the right and left of me.
It seems that old Kashmiri logic is haunting me again.

2 comments:

Fragmentadora de Papel said...

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honowablepamera said...

you should update your blog soon. i've checked it about 30 times in the past 2 days. obvi. i've got a paper due for my dumb penn class and i need some distraction. see what you can arrage.