As we strolled through the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, my Mom gave a little start when a vendor started shouting violently. What could we have possibly done wrong?
Don't worry, I explained, he was yelling at the man behind us--for touching his fruit.
"DON'T TOUCH THE FRUIT" is like the unofficial welcome to Spain, especially for Americans accustomed to melon-squeezing-grandma culture. To select your produce, you must put on plastic gloves, but don't squeeze! And don't forget to weigh your fruit. Or you can tell the shop assistant what you'd like, depending on the venue. If being scolded is a welcome, then overhearing someone else be scolded while wearing little plastic gloves is when you know you've arrived.
"How are you supposed to know if it's ripe without touching it?" a friend once asked. We expats may never know.