You know, most of my life has been extremely difficult, quite often stressful and occasionally violent. I’m not the kind of person who is easily given to tender emotions but yesterday I almost burst into tears. It takes a lot to really touch me on the inside but what happened yesterday really came close.
As you know, I spent last weekend with a whole crew of Romanians and of course they’re in my daily life on a regular basis as well. And the one thing I always hear over and over and over again is just how poor they and everybody else in this country is. Granted, if we’re comparing the starting salary of a teacher in Romania to one in Britain or America, the cash money is a lot less. You will get absolutely no argument from me on this. But sometimes wealth and poverty are measured by other things besides cash money.
I want to show all of you what, to me, a hardened survivor and all-around cynical bastard, consider to be a small miracle.
Not impressed? What you are looking at is a bowl of apples that I bought in the piata market here in town. It’s actually about 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) exactly. And for this bowlful of delicious goodness I paid exactly 1 Romanian leu.
What’s that? Still not impressed? Maybe you weren’t paying attention. I paid one leu for an entire kilogram of apples. Translated into American terms that’s something like 14 cents a pound. Now do you understand? 14 cents a pound is like 1950’s prices or something. 14 cents a pound? It’s unheard of!
Can you guess how much I’d pay in America? Can you? No, you really can’t because I’ll tell you the answer. The answer is not for any price can you get apples like these. Not for 14 cents a pound, not for 14 dollars a pound not even for 140 dollars a pound. Apples like these literally are not for sale at any price in the United States of America.
These apples are tiny, they have bruises, they have “defects”. You can see some of them have wrinkled skins. They are the cast offs in the Romanian market, hence the low price. But they’re not soft or mushy and they are perfectly fine to eat and extraordinarily delicious. In America, all fruit must look perfect to be sold in any kind of store or market. Literally the only way to get apples like these in America or Britain would be to harvest them from my own trees or personally know someone who would give them to me.
But here in Romania you can grab them for the unbelievably low price of 1 leu right here in the center of a large city. And I spoke to the guy who was selling them and I know where they came from and I know they came neither from some huge commercial farm run by a multinational corporation nor were they sprayed with chemicals and pesticides and all the rest.
They are simple, natural apples, grown on a tree the natural way, small little mismatched fruits that are extremely nutritious and insanely delicious.
I put these Romanian beauties in my trusty juicer and a moment later, look what came out!
That’s right, enough juice for the whole family at breakfast time. Yum!
So the next time you feel like bitching about how poor you are, do me a favor and shut the hell up for a minute. For the price of 1 leu you can have for breakfast what not even the richest American can afford.