The Gift & Gift Returned

A tradition all should follow when visiting the Black Market.

“The thing I always remember from my first visit to the Black Market was the extraordinary foods offered to me at every turn. Not because merchants were trying to sell their goods, but because they realized I was new and wanted me to have the best initial experience of where they lived.”
— Wendell
 
“Yeah,…cause you were an idiot.”
— Dax, Wendell’s bodyguard
  The Black Market is perhaps the most unique social environment, I, as a historian, have ever had the privilege of visiting. The people and culture, its laws and customs have fascinated me from the moment Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck) brought me here as a child. There are two things every visitor will quickly discover:   A) the town exists under the surface of the planet, and;
B) there are limited resources to feed the existing population.   That being said, one of the amazing aspects of this dirty, humble community, is their desire to share the best side of its culinary limitations through sacrifice.   When you enter the gate into the valley of the Market, the first thing to bombard your senses will be the cooking of curious meats mixed with the lingering scent of unwashed bodies.   I know, I know....ewwww.   The dark rock that forms the streets will twist and turn through the tired and leaning hovels, where vendors sit beside the paths, waiting to share and sell their wares. What I find impressive is that each cook strives to invent new ways to present their one and only abundant source of meat: Setänä [seh-TAH-nah].   This bioluminescent snail-like creature crawls about the rock cavities and plays a critical role in the survival of every being within the Market. Those who cannot afford to buy fresh foods or imports from merchants can always turn to the abundant sun snails crawling about the stagnates and stalactites.   This is why IF you desire to make friends among the cave-dwelling inhabitants of the Market, I strongly suggest you follow two specific traditions when visiting the Gypsy people.  

The Gift

The indigenous folk, the Gypsies, are a humble and kind folk—direct cousins to the blue-skinned Iskari. The whole of the community was opened to those who were shunned from society and taken in symbolically as one of their own.   Because Gypsies live as one family, it is customary for a person to offer a portion of their own food to a stranger as a peace offering. This displays not only their kindness and willingness to welcome another into a realm of safety and friendship, but it also allows the Gypsy to show their willingness to sacrifice for another. This displays their humility and love towards others, which is taught strictly from birth.   Hence should you be offered food, without price, from one of the Gypsy people, it is customary to accept the food in both hands, thanking them…and then promptly eating what you are given.   This shows your acceptance of their sacrifice, which oftentimes is substantial.  

The Gift Returned

For those who accept the way of the Markets indigenous people, giving a gift of food in return is a profound blessing in the eyes of all Gypsies. Not only will one receive the gratitude of the receiver, but the respect from those who behold such a gift in return.   To a Gypsy you not only recognize the gift you were given—you are symbolically emulating that gift, paying a form of homage to those who have sacrificed before you.   This is endearing to any Gypsy, especially elders within the community.   So remember to do this traveler, and I assure you that you will find both friends and fortune whenever you visit the Black Market.

Comments

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Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
4 Jul, 2019 19:30

This article touched my heart. The whole ritual of accepting the gift and returning the favor is absolutely heart warming.
I was wondering actually if there are any specific foods from outside the black market, which are seen by the gypsies as a greater gift than others.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
6 Jul, 2019 03:00

That is a good question, and it's a bit more complicated--   Gypsies don't look at the food, so much as the person. Think of it as the 'widows might'....someone who has much and gives of their substance doesn't sacrifice as much as one who has little and gives the same.   Gypsies often look to the giver--and though the giving of the gift is always smiled upon, if one in rags and unclean through poverty bestows such a gift or returns the gift, it is looked upon as a sacred honor.   Hope that makes sense.   Excellent question!

JAIME BUCKLEY
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Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
6 Jul, 2019 03:51

It makes a lot of sense!

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
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