An hour later, all were out of the house and on their way to school and work, though Ilham, who was eighteen and planned to marry the next year, stayed home with her mother. After the breakfast dishes were washed and put away, Ilham and Khadija donned their djellabas, picked up woven straw bags and began the ten-minute walk to the Marché Central, a honeycomb of market stalls located in the center of the Ville Nouvelle. Each stall was heaped with baskets of red onions, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes, but also fruits and vegetables more particular to the season-cantaloupes and watermelons in the summer, oranges in winter, apples from the Middle Atlas Mountains in the fall. The two women bantered easily with their favorite sellers, choosing from among the diff erent stalls what looked best on that day. Then they climbed the steps to the center of the market where the off erings were more diverse, ranging from pet parakeets and goldﬁ sh to spice stands. Glistening ﬁ sh trucked in from the coast, fresh on Tuesdays and Saturdays, lay on stone slabs in one central area. They examined
the ﬁ sh for a moment and decided they’d wait for a fresher supply before preparing l’khout b’tamatem, baked ﬁ sh with a lemony cilantro sauce and tomatoes. Bypassing the meat stalls where hunks of beef and lamb hung from hooks behind the butchers, they headed for the chicken seller closest to the exit, from whom they bought a young capon.