One day in Montreal, Dave and I went to the Jean Talon Marketplace near Little Italy. On either side of us wine vendors passed out samples and wedges of smelly cheese were plopped onto scales. We stopped in front of a produce stand that displayed cartons of an unusual green fruit with a papery outer layer, similar to onion skin.
“I think it’s a tomatillo,” I said, recalling a similar fruit I had on one of my last nights in Prague with a kiwi-like flavor.
A French-speaking man gave us each a piece of the alleged tomatillo to sample. Peeling the skin off, Dave asked the name of the fruit. The French-speaking man sent us an English-speaking man to deal with our English speaking.
“It’s a ground cherry,” the English-speaking man announced, baffling us both, for neither of us had heard of a ground cherry before. “It’s called a ground cherry because you don’t pick them off the tree. You wait for them to fall on the ground. That’s when you know they’re ripe.”
The French-speaking man pushed a half empty-carton of ground cherries towards me and I picked them up. Dave and I each took one cherry and attempted to return the carton.
“No, take them,” the English-speaking man insisted. I took the free food. “He gave them to you. And they’re good for you, but especially for you.” He pointed to Dave.
“I eat a carton of these every day,” the English-speaking man continued. “They’re good for the prostate.”
I passed the carton of ground cherries to Dave. Perhaps he needed them more than I did.