Fri, 27 Sep 2013 - 12:04 GMT
Fri, 27 Sep 2013 - 12:04 GMT
|A walk around the Anfoushi Fish Market|
|By Tasnim Abdelrahman|
|As an Alexandrian, I know that fish is a big part of our traditional cuisine, but rarely do I think about how it gets to the local market or a restaurant. So the last time I went home to Alex, I decided to wake up at dawn and go to the Anfushi fish market near the Qaitbey Citadel, a historic market known for attracting seafood buyers from all over the coastal city and beyond.The sun hadn’t yet risen as we drove along the Corniche, but reddish and orange tints hinted at the horizon. The air was surprisingly fresh with very little humidity — but it was cold. The closer we came to Bahary where the market is located, the stronger the smell of fish became. It was almost too strong to take at first, especially so early in the morning, but I got used to it quickly. When we reached the neighborhood and got out of the car to find the market, I didn’t have to ask for directions; all I had to do was follow my nose.
I arrived at the market and saw a lot of people, which surprised me because I expected the place to be nearly deserted with just a few fishermen. It was, after all, only four in the morning.
Many people stood waiting around wooden blocks placed over one another and filled with ice for the fish. Some of the buyers, mostly men from the fish restaurants around Alexandria, wore galabeyas while the rest wore old work pants and shirts. Nearby, a group of women in their black abayas and similar floral-patterned scarfs waited for the fishermen to come. I stood in a corner not far from where my driver had parked, but not so close that I would get in the way. By this time the sun had almost fully risen but not enough to light the whole place. The reddish tints had almost disappeared as the sun slowly emerged.
The fishermen finally arrived with baskets and nets filled with all the different kinds of fish that you could possibly imagine, some I have never laid eyes on before. Among the types I could recognize were boury, bolti, and little moussa fish. Shrimps, crabs and calamari spilled into the wooden boxes in great quantities.
As soon as the fishermen put the fish baskets down, the place became chaotic. The smell reached overpowering heights, fish were thrown across tables as they were being sorted and immediately people started bargaining. A man seated in the center of the action called out the initial price per kilogram, and the buyers bid furiously until the highest offer took the fish.
“Ninety… 100…who wants to raise?”
The sun was up, filling the place with some warmth. The bidding continued, with people shouting at the top of their lungs about the different types of fish and the different prices, and shoving each other aside. Because I did not indulge in the bidding and was not at the center of the action, things seemed a lot more chaotic from where I was standing. Voices were rising so high I couldn’t make out what the men and women were saying anymore, even though I was standing right next to them.
The auction went on for hours. I eventually sat down in a plastic chair near the entrance and continued observing. When I took a closer look at the crowd, I noticed a young boy no older than nine dressed very similarly to the fisherman. He looked as if he was hiding from the crowds near one of the wooden tables, scared by all the noise. He watched them bargaining, a look of disbelief on his face, and for one moment, I did not feel out of place. When he saw me, he concealed himself even more, although I smiled at him in hopes that he would come out. But he stayed there, clinging to a table leg.
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