|image courtesy of The Mag|
The supermarket as temple.
I've written before about the tendency to throw myself on the floor of the Waitrose supermarket around the corner from the hotel we stay at in London. We're here again, twisting between delight and something close to misery as we scan the shelves of edible jewels that we are denied in exile.
Totalitarian rulers know the way to keep the populace most vulnerable is to keep changing the conditions, the prohibitions, the rewards. We don't live under such an extreme regime; however the random shortages of various staples and consumables tends to warp one's judgement.
When we see say, Worcestershire sauce, we might buy three bottles, not because we drink the stuff, but rather because when we do run out, it may be six months before we see it in the supermarket again. We can't predict what will suddenly become impossible to source. In the last year, at various times we've had no wild rice, no water chestnuts, no capers, no vegetable juice, no muesli, no pine nuts, and for six weeks, there were no eggs. My favourite brand of yogurt once disappeared for 4 months before quietly slipping back on to the shelves. None of these are essential, life-threatening shortages, only unsettling.
This shopping situation changes one's behaviour. We buy things when we see them, put them away in the pantry and then, we don't eat them. We stroke the packages and count them, and feel a delicious anticipation because we know they are there on the shelf, waiting to be enjoyed. We don't eat them because in many cases, we know we won't see them again, ever. If I were more enlightened, I would enjoy my food and never treat it as some exclusive reward to be earned I-don't-know-how.
It is not only me as the siege mentality strikes us all: my friend R, who has just packed up for another international move, has been feasting on the remnants of her pantry, wildly consuming the odds and ends that have been hoarded over the last year.
Tess Kincaid's lost soul in the soup aisle doesn't look tempted to throw himself on the floor and have a tantrum or meltdown of ecstasy. Just imagine it's me, pushing the trolley, pretending I live a few blocks away, and it is perfectly normal for me to buy luscious fruit and exquisite vegetables in sensible, quotidian quantities.
Thanks to Tess for the prompt. Many artistic products can be perused here.