Yesterday I was standing in the back of Iovine’s Produce in Reading Terminal, chatting with a clerk while I waited for them to bring up a couple of cases of fruit for me from the basement (part of our APHA giveaway). We had been talking for about five minutes, when an elderly black man walked up to the clerk, to be checked out. He had remnants of the south in his voice, and started telling us about the many years he had known the market. He said that he had been coming there since he got out of the service in 1948, and then, the floors at Iovine were always wet. He recounted his memories of the times when the market almost closed and expressed his appreciation that it was still there.
He was buying two packages of Scotch Bonnet peppers (about 24 of those suckers) along with a large packet of habeneros. Neither the clerk nor I had commented on his selection, but he saw us looking, and said, “My grandson asked for hot pepper jelly and I’m gonna fix his shit.” He walked on, and the clerk and I exchanged a look and a giggle. My fruit showed up and I went on my way, but kept thinking about that encounter. His delivery was so honest, with a touch of glee at the impending shocker he was getting ready to present to his grandson, that it delighted me all day. I wonder if his grandson has any tastebuds left today.