Sunday, November 08, 2009

Greeks and Leeks

I went to the farmer's market today, and as I was buying some plums, the vendor in the next booth was talking a blue streak about how expensive the war was and how much longer his leeks were than any you'd find in stores. He was brandishing one of these leeks at potential customers, and it was about two feet long.

He was proclaiming that he and his veggies were from "San Guan Bautista" and I was thinking that his couldn't possibly be a Spanish accent, or he'd know how to pronounce that, and it wasn't quite Italian, either, although he sort of looked like he might be.

I asked him where he was from, originally. Greece, he said. Did I know where that was? I was, in fact, aware of such a place. I could pick it out on a map, and I even recall visiting once, but he proceeded to explain it to me, anyway. And then the rant shifted to how England had taken all the valuable antiquities, but they might maybe give some of them back if Greece builds a big, new building for them. (Being vocal and opinionated is a favorite pastime of many older Greek men.)

I explained to him that I'm cooking for only myself and I really have no use for long leeks. By the time I cut up one of his enormous leeks, I'd have six days' worth of leftovers before I added a single other thing to the soup.

I was still standing there, clutching my bag of veggies, trying to stand aside of the fire hose of rants, halfway listening, and taking in the expressions on his neighbors' faces, when two women walked up and asked the price of broccoli. He told them, and they must have taken him for Italian, because they said "grazie" as they turned to retreat.

I corrected them, "ευχαριστώ". I'm sure they didn't get it, but he repeated, "yes, ευχαριστώ πολύ", and went right back to ranting in English without even bothering to ask if I knew any more Greek or how come I knew the word, or anything.

Perhaps if I can manage it, I'll try asking him the price of onions-or-something next week, in Greek, and see what language comes back with the answer. Something tells me, though, that if I convince him to start speaking Greek, convincing him to stop is going to be even harder.


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