A change at the market is as good as a holiday

Having spent a couple of months in India where, despite relishing the local food, I missed cooking for myself, I'm enjoying getting back to the kitchen - and to the Otago Farmers Market.

Sadly the cherry season's over, but there are still apricots, including the flavoursome moorparks, different varieties of peaches and nectarines, and oodles of delicious plums of all colours, green, yellow, red and purple.

New since I've been away is a stall selling Central Otago watermelon and rock melons; Whitestone Cheese from Oamaru has a regular stall and Colin Dennison of Evansdale cheese has a new gruyere-style cheese wrapped in blue wax.

I've even been enjoying standing in the queue for Edmonds fish and chatting to others also waiting for their fresh, often unusual catch.

In India my husband and I loved the variety of food from north to south and from the different religions - wonderful kebabs from Muslim restaurants and stalls, excellent vegetarian food everywhere, and further south along the coast there was fresh fish from the Arabian sea, and different spice flavours - mustard seed, curry leaves and coconut.

And we visited spice plantations to learn about cardamom, pepper, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and vanilla.

Watch for recipes and stories in this section in coming weeks.

In the heat we discovered the joys of fresh lime soda, a most refreshing drink, more so than beer, which wasn't always available - in Cochin, beer was even served illegally in teapots as "special tea".

- Fresh lime soda
This can be sweet or salted as you prefer. It's quick, easy and deliciously refreshing.
Squeeze the juice of a lime or lemon into a glass. Stir in a teaspoon of sugar or to taste, or a little salt if you prefer a savoury drink, and top up with cold soda water. Add ice if you like, but in India ice was usually suspect.

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