The Market

10 Jul


Here’s another short vignette from the Sicily pile. This article is about buying food from an old Sicilian man.

As Marissa walked over to the old man selling food out of his trunk outside the gates of Érice, a smile came over his face. A potential sale. Soon a crowd developed, as if no one had ever seen a toothless Sicilian selling homemade food out of his car before. This old man wore a caddy hat, a beige winter jacket, and a pair of slacks. In any other setting he could have been someone’s grandfather going for a stroll. Instead, he was playing the Sicilian version of Let’s Make a Deal. Chocolates, pistachios, fruits and veggies were on the menu today. Although more customers weren’t buying, enough people were around to keep him occupied.

More people started to buy chocolates and other treats, and the historian in me was trying to work up a thesis. There we were in the Mediterranean, where civilization evolved and the market began. For thousands of years, people have been doing the same thing we were. Now it was our turn. Instead of the Greeks or Romans, we are the Americans. We traveled thousands of miles to view the Italian culture, but now we were interacting and are a part of it forever. We’d left our mark on Sicily.

The thought of cheap Sicilian pistachios was torturing me, and I had to buy some. He spoke with a soft tongue, which was aided by his lack of teeth. Marissa talked to him for a while, telling him who we were, what we were doing, asking him questions about his food. She told me the man said everything he sold was good. If he couldn’t eat the pistachios, how did he know they were good? Since I bought them, I would have to be the judge.

-April, 2006

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