The Tomato Baron

7 Apr

I had never before met a tomato millionaire. He seemed like a nice man. He seemed much like a regular man. His hands were short and stubby and his index fingers and thumbs had thick calluses, which had turned yellow with the decades of work on the vines. He had been retired for many years and rumour had it that he either spent his winters in Majorca or in his three bedroom flat in Estoril. In any case, he was here with me now, shaking his head at my sad tale regarding the horrific quality of tomatoes in the States.
“Terrible, terrible,” he said and cracked his knuckles. “Bon… you know what they do, don’t you?”
I shook my head.
“They pick them green and smother them in ammonia.”
“That’s disgusting.”
“Oui,” he said and tapped my chest with his index finger. “This is what your superpower country has become. A charlatan of the first class. They even shortchange you on tomatoes.”
“Why ammonia?” I said trying to steer this away from politics.
“Aah, oui,” he tapped again on my sternum. “My dear, the ammonia gives them color. Then they become red, but…they are not ripe. It’s charlatanism.”
His son called down from the top of the ladder.
“Now. I must leave you, my boy requires the help of a good, strong man.”
After all the backbreaking decades of picking and packing and shipping tomatoes, he said he still enjoyed working occasionally with his hands.
“It’s quite agreeable to be rich,” he said. “Have no doubt about that. But one needs something else. I am a peasant. I have to work. And that’s why I like to help my son with his business from time to time. In the end, I am only a peasant. I still wake up with the hens, you know.”

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3 Responses to “The Tomato Baron”

  1. Matt 08/04/2008 at 4:40 AM #

    This truly a great piece. It feels like something that has been lost, but everyone hopes will be found again.

  2. (S)wine 08/04/2008 at 4:50 PM #

    Hi and thanks, Matt.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Alcohol Posts » The Tomato Baron - 07/04/2008

    […] (S)wine wrote a fantastic post today on “The Tomato Baron”Here’s ONLY a quick extractI had never before met a tomato millionaire. He seemed like a nice man. He seemed much like a regular man. His hands were short and stubby and his index fingers and thumbs had thick calluses, which had turned yellow with the decades of … […]

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