A couple of miles from my house is a produce market. Mom and Pop operation. Except Mom and Pop are from Bulgaria speaking multiple eastern European languages, and English with an accent I never heard as a child. Cold War and all.
Probably close to my age. I watch this energetic couple happily serve customers for long hours, every day of the week.
Along with Mom and Pop there's a brother-in-law. Grown daughters work from time to time, a son-in-law helps out on weekends. One daughter is a Goog employee and Pop proudly wears his Google swag. Google girl manages their website and Facebook page. Crystal Springs Produce.
Another daughter is a few weeks from having a first child. When Pop told me his baby was about to have a baby, his face reddened.
His Mrs. gives him a hard time when she's there. And she smiles. Except once that I remember. When her grandchildren were away on vacation. She counted days until their return. Luminous little faces on photos taped near the cash register.
Beautiful local produce. Mostly organic with wonderful variety and quality. Samples freely given. “Go taste the cherries. You won’t leave here without buying some. I promise you.” Pop is always right.
I’m surprised at the price which is better than all the large, mediocre chain markets even when they have sales. Never mind fancy-shmancy gourmet Italian or the natcho-organico place. Got 'em beat all to heck.
Bread delivered daily, 5AM. Sundays, too. My favorite French jam in abundance, every flavor even those Americans don’t eat, with a price better than the competition. Cheeses and olive oils from a medley of countries.
It’s fair to say I’m a devotee. There three to four days a week, and in the summer nearly every day. I spend so much time perusing produce that my cousins supplied me with French reusable shopping bags for my trips. They want me to be a pest in style.
This family and their produce market make everything a little better for me. The shopping center. The shopping experience. My kitchen. Our dinner table. I’m a better cook because their goods inspire me.
I get pretty happy when I see colorful, dewy, quality fruits and vegetables. First I feast with my eyes then my imagination kicks in.
What delicious thing will I make tonight? Soup with roasted butternut squash and tomatoes, leeks, and pears. Garnished with crisped sage and Stilton cheese. And a butter lettuce salad.
Yesterday I bought fresh herbs and to save on plastic bags I put them all in one. I drew the owner’s attention to what I'd done so he wouldn't miss anything and undercharge me.
“I don’t want to be an accidental thief,” I laughed.
“But you cannot steal from me,” he countered. Seriously.
“Because if you need something, I will give it to you.”
Even more than I know I can count on his produce, I believed what he said to be true. He would give me what I need were I to ask.
This was a blessed moment dropped into ordinary conversation. A huge deal in a no big deal comment. The Universe was saying, Pay attention!
Sometimes it doesn't feel like there are enough of them but there are those among us like Pop. People who will give us what we need if only we will ask.
In this case a family came from half a world away to share our way of life, and in return, they share themselves with us.