Charlie and the Fruit Factory

“Look at me grow… it’s the apples.”

Who needs chocolates and candies when you have dozens of sampling trays of grapes, peaches, plums and strawberries?

We’re at the farmers’ market in Brentwood, a Sunday tradition in front of my old school, Brentwood Elementary, on Gretna Green.

My Dad’s stocking up for the week, content with the fresher fruits and vegetables, the lower prices and the chance to speak Spanish with many of the sellers. He’s Argentine.

So too is my son. He and I are tagging along during our vacation in Los Angeles, where we’re visiting family. But my four-year-old is not interested in the linguistic opportunities at the farmers’ market. No way. He’s into the fruit. There before him stand more than a dozen tables, each with trays of samples. He’s licking his chops at the glorious heaps of fruit. And now he’s here and there and everywhere, sampling grapes, nectarines and strawberries. What a healthy appetite, I think, as I watch him race around. Gobble down. Smile. The sellers watch, too. What gusto this little boy has for their produce. Que lindo! The sellers refill baskets as they empty, cutting up more fruit. But he’s off in a shot to another table and another and then another. Ah, the plums and the seedless grapes, the greens and the reds.One, two, three, four, five, six. He stuffs the grapes into his mouth, in mere seconds. Off again he runs to another stand, leaving behind empty baskets and sellers working ever quicker to keep them full for others to taste.

My Dad’s now finishing his shopping and we’re ready to go.

But my son looks up at me and then at the sellers as they replenish baskets and he says, “One more.”

“Just one more,” I say.

And he’s off, filling his mouth. And then back again, hands stickier than ever.

“Right, let’s go.”

“Not yet.”

“Yes, we’ve got to.”

“One more.”

“No.”

“Please…”

“OK. But just one more.”

And he’s off. Rapido! Piling fruit into his mouth and then back again and I think, quick, come up with something to say that’ll get him to come away with us. And then, “Ah ha. Yes, that’s it,” I say to myself as he runs up to me.

“Right, time to go,” I say.

“Not yet,” he says.

“I’ll buy you a chocolate bar.”

He stops and thinks and turns back to look at the sellers as they chop up more delicious fruit, knives flying – rapido! – to refill the baskets he’s emptied, to prepare for another onslaught.

“No,” he says.

“Yes.”

“No.”

I give up. “OK, but just once more.”

And he’s off again to pounce on the trays.

Then he’s back and this time I’ve got a better plan. “Look,” I say. “Look at what Granddad’s bought.” He looks down at the bags and then inside and he sees mangos and strawberries and grapes and cherries. He looks up at me and then back at the sample trays and the sellers who are wiping their brows and watching him, poised above chopping boards to replenish baskets. He licks his lips and then he turns back to us and looks down at Granddad’s bags and then back again at the sellers and then at the bags and then he says, “Okay.”

I sigh with relief. At last!

As we turn to go, I look back at the sellers. They’re watching us walk away, tensed shoulders now relaxing. It seems they are muttering, “Que suerte!

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Katie August 24, 2009, 2:17 pm

    I hope you and the family are enjoying your stay in the U.S. When are you coming back to Argentina? After all, you're missing all this great weather. :p

    I'm thinking about heading to Pinamar in mid-September. Do you have any restaurant suggestions?

  • Charles Newbery August 25, 2009, 3:01 pm

    Thanks for all the comments. We are actually back in Argentina. I'm writing about our trip as if we were there (shame on me!) with a few more posts and then back to what's going on here in the big city and on our beloved coast. Lots to write about.

    When you go to Pinamar, a good place is the Sociedad Italiana (Eneas y Cazon), great food in a rundown eatery with a pleasant atmosphere. Another is Jalisco, run by a friend of mine. Mexican food. Tante's a classic, better for the cakes, as far as I'm concerned. It's on De las Artes near the beach. You won't miss it. On the main coast road is El Viejo Lobo, a classic and pretty good. The word is that A Mama Liberata is good, but I've not been. You can check out http://www.pinamarweb.com/pinamar/gastronomia/restaurant.html for more. Drop us an email when you come up we may be there, if it's a weekend.

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