Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

I like to think of myself as a person not unduly swayed by advertising. I’ve always been pretty good at tuning out jingles and conscientiously forgetting slogans, and timeslipped television is a blessing to me because yes, I am the kind of person who records a live show to watch with just enough lag to fast-forward through the ads. If I have to watch something live, I am quick to hit the mute button and studiously look away from the screen. I don’t want to give that stuff space in my brain if I can help it – it’s crowded enough in there already,

But sometimes, when I go shopping, I will admit to breaking down and buying something entirely for the label. Almost invariably, it’s something I want to share with the Beloved, and yes, I can tell a garbled story of “it was so silly! It said …” but proof is better, and the actual item – undeserving of purchase as it may have been – is funnier. The ludicrousness of Extract of Cashmere toilet paper had to be seen (experienced?) to be believed. So, for a small cost, I trundle home with the occasional oddity, idiocy, or curiosity. I think of it as equivalent to a cat delicately depositing a mouse at the feet of an honored giftee°.

In recent weeks I’ve brought home a couple of ‘mice’. The first is a classic mouse – idiocy of eye-watering greatness:

In fairness, it’s quite good shampoo. For hair. I might even buy it again. But it’s not that amazing, and I’m still thinking of suing them, in view of my confidence being stubbornly unimproved.

The next mouse is more in the oddity category. It’s this coffee tin, which I’ve been perplexed by for a while now:

What are they trying to say with this? My theory is that along with the sustainability and small producer buzzwords, it seems to be trying to attract the middle-aged, middle-class ex-pinko-liberal market share by drawing more than one might reasonably expect on the iconography of protest and revolution. What else is that Spanish ¡ doing, if not cueing up a bit of ¡No pasaran! glamor?  And the hands? I had to look a few times before I noticed the coffee grains flowing through the fists of the noble worker… Could they possibly be trying to stir up some associations in the pre-frontal cortex of the aforementioned ageing lefties, or am I to believe that they designed this button-pushing canister entirely by accident? So, ¡Viva la revolucion! and meanwhile, wake up and smell the coffee.

Note:  the coffee is also good, and – for once – appropriately ground for our stovetop machine. I might even buy this again too.

The third mouse was brought home merely because I found it beautiful. Sometimes that happens. (Also, I was curious, but that was pure bonus.)

This is something called black vinegar. I got it in the Korean/Japanese shop I occasionally go into for sushi supplies (and, almost invariably, come out of with a dose of unidentifiable randomness, just like this). It is pungent, aromatic, and, luckily, delicious when used sparingly in salad dressings.

So, that’s three out of three for serendipity. Maybe I should buy things for the label more often?

° When presented with an actual mouse, by an actual cat, I find it hard to know what the correct response should be. Mine, which involves a dustpan and brush and the swiftest possible removal, seems somehow churlish: I know I do not like it when the Beloved fails to show sufficient appreciation of the ‘mice’ I bring him.

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I went to the supermarket this morning, laying in with all the good things I can’t get at the local farmers’ market. Such as fruit. And, er, crisps, and cotton face wipes, and washing powder. And random, irresistible bargains from the fresh food aisles, which is a modern, urban version of hunter-gathering or seasonal eating. If in doubt about what tonight’s dinner should consist of, pick up whatever happens to be lying around accessorized in a nice red ‘reduced’ label. Tip: this is a policy best employed in an upmarket supermarket such as the one I frequent (and yes, sadly I do not use the term ‘frequent’ loosely, despite my predilection for the farmers’ market), where the produce is always of the finest and freshest, and the discounts of the very deepest.

Occasionally it gets absurd. I have seen spokes of perfectly ripe brie sold off for 10p (around 15¢) and a couple of weeks ago snagged some delicious mince pies for 29p, and a huge pot of brandy cream (which is, by the way, still fresh at the time of writing, a fact that terrifies me somewhat) for 10p. I’ve had an entire salmon for £5, and fillet steak for about that much per kilo. It is merely a matter of keeping a sharp eye out, and being flexible about the shopping list. The down-side is that on the rare times when I’ve had to do an entire full-price shop, I feel rather more aggrieved than is entirely justified.

So today, I think I hit the ultimate in absurd discounts. Due to the rather strange practice in the UK of selling most fruit and veg pre-packaged (my inner French housewife is not impressed by this babying), it seems to acquire a legal requirement for a ‘best before’ label. Or do I mean a ‘sell by’ label? Or even a ‘use by’ label? All these have different meanings in law, which remains largely opaque to the consumer, and instead of providing the useful health-and-safety guidance that the legislators doubtless intended, mostly just leads to mountains of food being discarded by the supermarkets. I am going to restrain myself from going on a very tempting major rant about this (for fear of striking terror into the heart of all three and a bit readers of this poor blog, and showing at least a minimum of respect for their boredom thresholds). At least my supermarket discounts so sharply because they really, clearly do prefer to sell it than throw it out. But either way, once it hits its appointed day of doom, it must go.

So I present you with Exhibit A:

Yes, folks. You are looking at still green ‘home-ripening’ bananas. That are officially past it.( And therefore half price.)

To which I say, frankly, that’s bonkers.

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