Thursday, October 04, 2012

Eye of newt, and toe of frog...

"Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
"Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
 "Lizard's leg and owlet's wing..."
"I hope you don't mind the smell," said Mrs D brightly on Saturday morning as she put together a shopping list, self and young Miss D for the purchasing of.
A quick glance down the list was enough to convince us that yes, we would mind the smell.
Demerara and dark muscovado sugars. Mace, ginger, apples, stout – the only thing missing was vinegar, and Mrs D already had that by the bucketload.
For Saturday, she had decided, was going to be chutney-making day – and Heaven help the nasal passages of anyone getting within 30 feet of our kitchen.
There are two schools of thought about chutney. One cleaves to the view that it's succulent, spicy and piquant – a quintessential accompaniment to the enjoyment of cold meats and cheeses.
The other holds that it is an evil sludge which doesn't deserve cupboard space.
You may have guessed from the aforegoing which side of the Dixon household stands on which side of the debate.
There was only one thing for it, though – get into town, buy the stuff and then retire to the loft while Mrs D did her Weird Sisters bit and boiled and bubbled the autumnal hell-broth.
"Buy the stuff" – aye, there's the rub (says he, getting even more Shakespearian). For in that trip to the shops, what dreams may come, when we have gone to Waitrose or to Morrisons, must give us pause.
Because Waitrose these days is – to hammer the Shakespearian motif to destruction – the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns.
As you walk in there's a sign pointing to "chilled goods" in one direction and "ambient goods" in the other. Which might raise a brief chuckle among fans of trance music, but leads only to an unmapped labyrinth of produce which customers may browse bemusedly at the back of the shop, while the builders refurbish the front.
Never mind, though. It'll be great when it's all finished.
Meanwhile Morrisons has gone through all the pain of remodelling and come out at the other end boasting one of the most extraordinary gadgets ever to grace a sales floor – the vegetable mister.
Imagine if you will (or even if you won't) a grid of stainless steel tubing supported above a rack of exotic vegetables.
Pierced into the tubes is a row of holes, and from the holes emanates a cloud of water vapour that envelops – nay, enrobes – the purple carrots, fresh samphire and galangal root that form such an essential part of our everyday diet.
"There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." And most of them are on display on Morrisons' vegetable counter.
Well, there we are: a right old Shakespearian mash-up (not unlike Mrs D's chutney if truth be told).
Bath's supermarkets have become like Prospero's island: "Full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not." Meanwhile, Mum's gone to Iceland.

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