farmhouse (otisil)

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you make your way into a small farmhouse. the walls are made up of many large stones piled into thick walls and the low roof is thatched.

inside, a small fire marks the centre of the house, with wooden and bamboo shelves lining the perimeter. one side of the house’s interior, however, contains a small mat on the floor laid with straw and leaves for sleeping.

the house is being gently filled with a sweet-smelling smoke rising from a pile of herbs laid over a shallow clay lattice that hangs over the fire. two women in the house tell you the herbs are zaí and the smoke fills you with a pleasant relaxed feeling.

on the shelves by the walls of the farmhouse, you see a whole collection of lidded jugs, all marked by scratches on the widest part of their form. the women tell you they are zwoíháí (“fermenting pots”), each anywhere between a few days and a few weeks old.

looking to the ceiling, you see small yellow-brown bricks hanging from a bamboo beam, tied on with small reeds that surround it like a parcel. the women tell you these are kwóimar, made from mar (“soybeans”), and that in a few weeks they will go into zwoíháí pots too to make zwoímar, a fermented soybean paste, later in the year.

the friendliness and cosiness of the farmhouse fills you with comfort, as does the relaxing smoke of the zaí and the subtle aroma of vegetable brine and aromatic leaves and vegetables which are piled up in one corner of the room.