I have been going to the same fruit stand for two years now. It’s situated between the exposition center and a stretch of cute, flower-draped casitas. The proprietor of said fruiteria is Manolo. He’s a friendly sort, always calling out a hearty “Buenas” as I pass. Often, this happens two to three times a day.
Manolo is a professor of sorts, shaking his head as I call strawberries cherries or when I say things like, “I would like the vegetable of red next to the round vegetable of yellow.” He gently, and often, helps me pronounce the names of the many vegetables and fruits in his store.
Once, he took our relationship to the next level, commenting that I looked guapa that particular day. I admit, this middle aged broad floated home a bit. Flattery will get you everywhere.
In truth, Manolo’s store isn’t the best. That honor belongs to Sancho, who has more variety and better produce. But Sancho is a longer walk, and the lines there are usually longer too. I must walk home with the bags pressing marks into my hands. Laziness wins.
I went to Manolo’s place this morning, mostly because I needed to break a 50 for later in the day. I bought three red peppers, each one the size of a toddler’s head. As I paid him, he handed me a plump, perfect cherry.
It was like holding summer in my hand for a moment, plump and full of possibility. Completely out of season, impractical. A sports car in a sea of Volvos.
It exploded on my tongue. I returned to the market, and bought a tiny bag. It waits for me, an indulgence.
Manolo made money from me. He’s smart. But he also noticed a need. A yearning, one could say, for something bright and alive and delicious on this mundane, blustery day.
In his own way, he made fruit transcendent.
And that, amongst many other reasons, is why I return.