Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cuisine de fRancid - Don't Eat the Deli Buns!

cácaí mhilse inne - ach cad atá ina measc?In Spar, no-one can hear you scream.

Every morning An Spailpín Fánach stops off at his local Centra for a cup of tea and a bun of some description. The tea-and-bun service is lucrative – and then some – for the Centra of course, but we live in a convenience-oriented age, and in the mornings it’s just too convenient for a sleepy-headed and ill-tempered Spailpín Fánach to resist the dead weight of sloth.

Until this morning, of course.

The buns in this local Centra are in a big, open shelf, as they are in nearly all convenience stores. Accessible to all. Including, it seems, the wounded.

As your faithful correspondent queued at the till with the cupán tae and the morning muffin, imagine my horror when I discovered a band-aid - used, bloody, slightly scrunched up – attached to the wrapping. It did little for the appetite.

But, you know, these bread displays are open to all comers, all day – why shouldn’t foreign bodies be in there? What’s to stop them? Some months ago, I beheld an urchin, six or seven years old or so, grab a sticky doughnut, consume half of it, and then restore the remainder to its original berth. I saw a young lady last year in a city-center Spar knock on of those bread rolls onto the floor with her bag, only to turn around, pick it off the floor and pop it back to its shelf.

Did alarms go off? No. Was she set upon by the horrified staff? No. Will the HSE appoint an advisor to advise on the situation? Sigh...

But who among us should really be surprised? We know that the highest hygiene standards should apply in these places, but who’s kidding whom? The people working in the convenience store deli are on minimum wage and maximum grief – they’re in no position to call a halt to the onward grind of commerce just because of one lousy band-aid, are they?

And well we know it. An Spailpín’s friend Ciarán Rua recounted an interesting story in this regard. Ciarán Rua and I were in Dingle-Dangle recently, listening to the locals not speaking Irish, and we were discussing the Centra phenomenon - Ciarán’s place of work is proximal to my own.

Ciarán told your horrified bilingual blogger that our Centra’s refuse arrangements are rather in the laissez-faire tradition, and some days all manner of wildlife can be seen roaming the bursting bags of rubbish. One of day, one of those critters went rambling, looking for fresh woods and pastures new. Instead of which, he found Ciarán Rua and his work colleagues, who were started to discover a great big rat sitting on one of their desks, blinking in the fluorescent light, having gained entrance through an open window.

“My goodness gracious,” said An Spailpín Fánach, conscious that the distaff side of the office would find this whiskery visitor very unwelcome indeed. “Whatever did you tell the girls?”

“We didn’t tell the girls,” responded that philosophical red-headed man. We poured black porter down throats that had been invigorated by the pure Atlantic breeze, and thought no more of the matter.

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