Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

I am drawn to the vegetable stall at the market by the bright red cherry tomatoes, that look as though they are backlit. The man behind the stall hands me a plastic bag so that I can pick out my own. He may be in his 30s, perhaps his 40s; it's a bit hard to tell, since his skin is deeply lined by the sun and he has a air of fatique, even boredom. At his side, dealing with customers with a faded, polite voice that matches her flowery dress, is a woman, presumably his wife.

While I'm picking out my tomatoes, I glance up to see a beautiful young woman, perhaps in her late 20s. Her brown hair is pulled back in a casual yet elegant chignon, her sunglasses are Chanel. Her features are sharp and delicate. She's the stereotype of an elegant young Parisienne, except that this is a small village in Provence.

The man behind the stall lights up like his tomatoes. Ignoring all the other customers, he devotes all of his attention to the young woman. He hands her produce, one by one. He waxes eloquently. He waves his hands around. I stand there, my filled bag of tomatoes in hand, trying to catch his attention so that I can pay and move on, to no avail. The young woman shuffles around the stall, clearly nonplussed by his attention, concentrating on finishing her purchase. Her equally pretty blonde friend looks on with an amused smile on her face. This kind of thing probably happens a lot to them.

The queue of other customers increases. We shuffle over to the wife, since she's the only one taking our money. The man is now leaning forward, holding out one of the cherry tomatoes to the young woman. My comprehension of French is not that good, but even I can hear the tone of seduction in his voice. The young woman refuses the tomato, laughing politely, her body language clearly saying, "Get me out of here now". By now, almost everyone around the stall is discreetly observing this little drama and smirking.

I finally get to the wife and hand her my bag of tomatoes to weigh. I glance at her face. Under her mask of polite nonchalance I can see her weary anger. Probably not the first time for such a situation.

The transaction is completed with the usual exchange of polite words. As I turn to leave, I see the young woman and her friend hurrying away from the stall. I glance back discreetly; the man is looking after them longingly, as his stone faced wife weighs the bags of another customer.

Filed under:  offbeat vignettes

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I'm from the south of France and I've already seen those types of scenes on the market... Sellers also try to "seduce" the customer to have him/her coming back and buying more but it seems that this time it wasn't only for that...
Anyway, could I know where you were in France, just to know if it was far or not from my hometown ? (just being curious of course :P).

I've seen plenty of market sellers trying to 'seduce' the customer too (and been the seducee many times)...usually it's just fun and part of the whole experience. But this guy was a bit..different ^_^;

It was at a town in Provence known for its Roman ruins...

This made me smile, actually. :) This story was cute.

Could it have been Orange, because I was there last summer for a cultural exchange of THE best experiences of my life! Then again...just about every village Provençal has some sort of Roman ruin like Nîmes.

[quote=IPenk]Then again...just about every village Provençal has some sort of Roman ruin like Nîmes.[/quote]

That is true ^_^ I didn't want to be too specific, because..I don't know, I didn't want to embarass that poor lady (not that it's likely a French market stall owner is going to be reading my blog, but hey you never know I guess!)

It could have happened anywhere, really...

Ack ! this is what I wrote before refreshing the page... ^^p

"I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in my hometown, IPenk! ^_^
Maybe it took place in Orange, since market day is indeed on Thursdays, but… I must say that it’s not really a “small village”, please (alright, maybe a small town ^^p) ! And besides, the main part of the produce market was moved away from the rest of the market in the town center, thanks to our oh-so-dear mayor, so it’s a bit difficult to spot.
A smaller town also famous for its ruins is Vaison la Romaine, maybe that’s the one?

Anyway, it’s really a vivid and somewhat bittersweet picture of what a market could be… and it brings back good memories (the sweets stall this man coming more for the smile of the owner than for the sweets; the Vietnamese lady and her stuffed chicken thighs that I can no longer enjoy, but still crave). Thanks for that, Maki. "

Looks like you were right ^^p

Ha ha! His poor wife, though! Sounds like she's used to it, but still. A very colourful little vignette on french market life there; I almost felt as if I was there watching!

I'm going to guess Arles...

I enjoyed this anecdote a lot--sort of an O. Henry feel to it.

What an interesting little tableau! Only at the farmer's market...

I love this vignette. The story, the photo. I just this past weekend had the pleasure of hawking sweets for a fundraiser-I confess to flirtatiousness but it sounds like this man was seriously past flirting.

Happend to me in italy...

With the difference that this guy tried to kiss me and it was in broad daylight when i walked down a street and he tried to *graciously* shoo me into the next small sideway blabbering all the time.

Do not know what he said but defenitely it should have been something to impress me and bend me his way, to allow him to groop me and more.

He was not drunk or anything..since then i am slightly disgusted by italian and *italian look a like* men.