Saturday, 15 August 2009

1001 Nights

I have decided to simply start at the beginning and read.

This evening I was up to the Porter following his mysterious maiden through the market as she bought an eye-popping sequence of delicious things:

'she stopped at a fruiterer's shop and bought from him Shami apples and Osmani quices and Omani peaches, and cucumbers of Nile growth, and Egyptian limes and Sultani oranges and citrons; besides Aleppine jasmine, scented myrtle berries, Damascene nenuphars, flower of privet and camomile...'

'she stood before the greengrocer's, of whom she bought pickled safflower and olives, in brine and in oil; with tarragon and cream-cheese and hard Syrian cheese...'

The translator is Sir Richard Burton, who had an amazing life. The introduction says: 'He lived like one of his heroes, travelling in Goa, Equatorial Africa, Brazil, India, and the Middle East. He took part in the Crimean War. He went with J H Speke to find the source of the Nile and discovered Lake Tanganyka. He disguised himself as an Afghan dervish and doctor and went on pilgrimage to the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina - a journey where unmasking would have cost him his life.'

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