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The bell peppers in the bin at the roadside fruit and vegetable stand are past their prime, their skin wrinkled and soft. “How much are they?” I ask.

“I give you four, no, five, for just one dollar,” the man says. His brown, weathered hand grasps two green ones and drops them into the plastic bag. I reach for a red one, and he says, “Oh, you like the red ones?” He seems surprised, smiles, and grabs two more, both with generous amounts of red flesh.

I am home, chopping the sweet red flesh, tossing the cubes into my iron skillet along with onions and garlic, olive oil and fresh oregano. I drain the noodles and toss everything together. I sit and read and eat. And, then, a singular piece of tender red pepper presents itself on my tongue. Sweet. Red. Full of life. For a moment, it’s like falling in love.


Ellen Hamilton