08 November 2008

Don't Touch

I saw a particularly exotic fruit on a stall at the Viktualienmarkt recently. I couldn't help myself; I reached out an touched it.

The stall holder had obviously been loitering in anticipation of my transgression. My finger had barely brushed the surface when she rushed out scowling, finger-wagging. 'Hallo. Hallo. Nein. Nein.' I contrived to look suitably chastened before moving on.

I find it strange to go to these stalls and not be allowed to touch or to select my own fruit. In the supermarkets I can pick my own fruit, so why not at the stalls? Some of them even put English language signs out for the benefit of tourists - 'No Self Service.'

I suppose they might try to argue that all of their fruit is of excellent quality and so there is no need for inspection. But the best way to convince me that the quality is consistently good is to let me see for myself.

In fact, I know from experience that the fruit is of mixed quality. As a result, when you have to take what you are given, a proprtion of what you are given is of poor quality. Why should I pay money for poor quality produce? Especially given how ridiculously expensive fruit is here.

So, while buying fruit from a market stall might have a certain picturesque charm, I now buy only from supermarkets.

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