One day in early September I noticed a couple of green seeds sprouting from a plant pot of off-season orchids in the corner of what I like to think of as my terrace – wrongly in fact, it belongs to everyone in the Home; it’s just that I am the only one to use it. All the plant pots on this terrace belong to a buff cheery old fellow called Sr. Antonio.
And so day by day the tomatoes (for so they turn out to be) grow firm and green and determined but of disparate size – the seed that made it surging plumply ahead leaving its shrinking little green runt-brother lagging behind in its shadow and so, for literary expediency and also the fact that in Portuguese it sounds a bit rude to refer to tomatoes as a pair, so to speak, hereinafter (or hereunto) there will be only one tomato.
One day Sr. Antonio says to me, he says, you know that tomato that you’ve been keeping your eye on? When it comes to harvest, do help yourself my dear fellow, just help yourself.
The golden September turns into a golden October … and I watch my green tomato start to blush pink like a girl guarding her secret and finally a ripe red.
These days in late October at 6.30 the sun is low in sky and already admiring its reflection in the darkening sea; the still autumn evening has a bite and the smoke-scented air drifts among the houses of the village.
Time to do the deed and hasten to the kitchen and enter it through the swing doors flourishing my tomato: what’s that for? asks a po-faced cook; I bite off the obvious answer to that one – this district is not exactly renowned for its Swiftian irony or satire – and ask someone if I could have it for dinner, sliced with light dressing and so on.
The result is, one might say, satisfactory; no, more than that actually, it tastes delicate and delicious. (And besides, it’s organic, innit?)