Tuesday 12 February 2019

The Food Demonstrator

by Kim Martins


Swiss Emmental. Provolone. Monterey Jack. I’ll need to learn the names of the fancy cheeses, and know the semi-hard ones and the extra-sharp cheddars. But I’ll certainly need to avoid the blue vein - smells like boiled cabbage or unwashed socks.

Here comes that prissy woman. I can’t make a mistake and offer her soft brie on a salty cracker, when she looks like a Gruyère lover. I bet she likes a rich, slightly nutty cheese. She probably has fondue parties on Saturday nights, and knows Gruyère is the perfect earthy cheese for swirling crusty French bread or an asparagus spear.

I should pick up the platter and step into the aisle. Last minute check; yes, that’s the Gruyère, although the fluorescent lights in this supermarket really wash out its lovely pale honey colour.

“Would you like a sample of our Gruyère?” I say as she passes by me, her fruity fragrance lingering in the aisle.

“No.” Short and curt.

Ah, well. I’m sure old Mrs. Taylor will snap up any free samples I offer. She’s not so picky, and she particularly likes the aged Gouda.

I glance down at my ID - Food Sample Demonstrator - making sure the plastic tag is sitting straight and not hidden by the lapel of my tight-fitting fuchsia jacket. Wandering back to the cheeses, I count
each sample, and then shift from one tired leg to the other. It’s not easy standing around for hours, handing out food samples.

My mind wanders back to when I first saw him in aisle sixteen, right between the confectionery and laundry detergents. Black hair slightly silvered at the temples, and I couldn’t help but notice his shopping trolley was stuffed with canned beans, beer and cat food.

I imagine him to be a Roquefort man: decadent and intense. King of the Blues. Might have to reconsider my dislike of blue vein I think as I pick up a mirrored-compact, fluff my bleached hair, and make sure that my lipstick isn’t smudged (customers love a broad, bright smile, so I’m wearing my favourite Honolulu Pink shade. It matches my jacket oh-so-perfectly).

There’s that irritating bakery guy just down the aisle, setting up his food station. He’d better not have those tiny jam doughnuts that people swarm around. After getting a sample or two, customers walk by the cheese station licking sugared fingers, ignoring the shaved Stilton and creamy Camembert.

No time to worry about it though, because here comes Mr. Roquefort.

“Could I try some ricotta, please?” he asks. A gentle smile, voice low and throaty.

“Ricotta?” I stutter. How bland!

How to tell ricotta from the cottage cheese, though? They both look like grainy lumps.

I offer him the platter, hoping he’ll know the difference, when an annoying kid darts underneath. The platter falls to the floor and breaks. Porcelain shards and cheese samples splatter everywhere.

Bakery guy looks over. There’s a smirk on his face.  “Hey, Irene,” he sniggers. “Still dreaming of that promotion? You’d best get back to aisle two, and serve those tiny cocktail sausages you’ve been serving to customers for years.”

About the author

Kim Martins lives in New Zealand. Her poetry and flash fiction has been published in The Copperfield Review, Furtive Dalliance, Barren Magazine, Plum Tree Tavern, The Drabble, Flash
Frontier, Flash Flood Journal & “a fine line’. A keen photographer, inspiration comes from photos and observations while walking. With a BA (Hons) in History, her stories and poetry often have historical themes.

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