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July 21st 2009

    I once worked for an English couple who ran a cafe on a bluff above a beach on the island of Corfu.  It had been my intention to find my way to that border Greece used to share with the country once known as Yugoslavia.  Outside the port town of Piraeus the couple had picked me from the side of the road.  And one day later I was washing dishes with water of uncertain origin.

   The business plan had been devised primarily around alcohol.  My employers were aficionados' of Ouzo.  In the mornings many hours were spent in quiet reverie, while I washed the floor in preparation for lunchtime.  Their coffee was Turkish, dark and strong.  Their cigarettes American Winstons.  Their bread and groceries were delivered by a three wheeled vehicle in the early afternoon.  By sunset life was merry.  By midnight there was often dispute amongst the clientele as to the nature of closing time.  

    

 

   In that outside space behind the kitchen, protected from the neighbors goat by a fence there were straggling tomato vines wretched from lack of care upon which tomatoes grew that set for me the standard for tomato flavor. 

    Years since I have always wondered why they tasted this way.  I was ill-fed, perhaps, from that onerous lifestyle that is hoboism.   It was fresh food, perhaps, with associated trace elements the body craves but sometimes does not find in a diet designed solely for the purpose of filling the stomach.  Perhaps it was the water these plants took off the outflow from the sink where I washed the dishes.  Perhaps it was the soil replenished by goat droppings and sea air.  And perhaps it was because they were the first tomatoes I ever picked and ate.

tim candler

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(Greek Tomatoes)