View from HQ – March
THIS MONTH’S BANTER: Why romance is best found in a queue outside a cheese shop. Does food tastes better when you know a bit more about it? And will the demise of the supermarket deli counter mean more opportunities for indies?
There was a genuinely stimulating piece by Tony Naylor in the Guardian this month: “Why I won’t miss Tesco’s fake ‘posh’ deli, fish and meat counters”.
The online comments (Google them – worth a read) were perhaps even more stimulating. Some folk defended Tesco for giving choice to more shoppers. Others decried the lack of advice or help from staff on these ‘deli’ counters.
There was a reasonable point made that supermarket delis allow better portion control by shoppers, reducing food waste and possibly cutting packaging too. But others struggled with the whole assumption that ‘posh’ equates to ‘quality’.
To the more-travelled Guardian readers, our UK multiples were just plain rubbish compared with Continental supermarkets, which seem to combine service and knowledge with a decent selection.
Tony Naylor’s article ended up highlighting a whole list of reasons to shop in our sort of stores: not ‘posh’, but ‘quality’.
Quality shops like Cheeses of Muswell Hill, where owner Morgan McGlynn has been an early adopter of the Guild’s new Fine Food Podcast. Hop onto your fave podcast app and hit it up (did that sound young enough?).
Sam Wilkin produces these 20 minute-or-so gems with our blessing, and the edition featuring Morgan is full of delicious lines. It cheered me up on a snowy February walk with the dog – my chosen podcast time.
After Morgan extols the virtues of terroir – knowing where a cheese is from, who made it and the fact that there’s ‘love, sweat and tears in it’ – Sam responds: “A piece of cheese just tastes different after you know about all that: the food’s richer somehow.”
Life is richer too. Cheeses of Muswell Hill has celebrated its first marriage, between a couple who met in the two-hour queue one Christmas– a love fuelled by mulled wine and fromage freebies.
And those two threads say it all. We all know most supermarket counter staff don’t know what on earth terroir is, and as far as I know Tesco doesn’t have its own dating agency. Maybe it should – might be more up it’s street.