“Red dilled tomatoes for breakfast? ”

My grandfather’s head hovered over the opening of a large glass pickling jar as he inhaled his favourite Russian delicacy. Dilled green tomatoes were normal, but red seemed to me to be eccentric. My family pickled everything, even watermelon. “It’s for any time,” my grandfather said, grunting with pleasure. Without pause to breathe, he fished out one more juicy red and popped it whole into his mouth. “Oy,” he said, as he swallowed and smacked his lips together, “it’s delicious.”

Open jars full of fleshy red tomatoes were lined up on the kitchen table. Ropes of dill sat beside each jar soaking my mother’s white embroidered tablecloth. A strong smell of garlic rolled off my grandfather. He swished around in the brine, squeezed a few tomatoes and triumphantly plucked one out.

“A beauty,” he said. “It’s perfect.”

“Who is it for? ” I asked.

Licking the juices running down his fingers, he looked up at me with a big smile and said, “Doba.”

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 2. Purchase the book to read the full piece.