David Moseley

The bitter taste of luxury

2014-03-05 07:51

David Moseley

I learnt last night that grocery shopping after a long day in the office is not best practice. Grabbing a few odds and ends off the shelf I scooped up a bottle of balsamic vinegar. When she's not drowning her salad in the stuff, my wife likes to bathe in it.

Half asleep, I shuffled towards the till and placed my haphazard collection of groceries on the counter. Some lettuce, a few pork chops, the vinegar and a Coke Zero.

The display-screen at the till, which I'm certain stores place there to depress you further so to encourage you to buy the chocolate they've laid on thick at the pay point, beeped into life. R124 it screamed at my eyes. Now I was awake.

What the hell, I thought, gasping just loud enough to draw the cashier's attention. How can those chops be R124? I peered into the basket looking for answer.

No. The chops were still there. As was the lettuce and the Coke. The vinegar, I realised, was the offending product. It's the fucking vinegar I said to myself in dismay. Too stunned to say anything further I paid for the rest and slumped out, defeated once more by the ridiculous prices we pay for things we probably don't need.

Yet driving home I perked up. This was clearly no ordinary vinegar. Sourced and bottled straight from the Fountain of Youth, perhaps? Or could it be a lucky bottle filled only with the "Angels' Share"?

Or maybe it was made from the first Modena grapes and crushed by the smooth, pale feet of Italian virgins, blessed by the words of the Pope himself and fermented in barrels made from the wood of Noah’s Ark.

Or maybe inside the bottle was a golden ticket to Willa Wonka's lesser-known all-you-can drink vinegar factory (now that the diabetes pandemic has shut down his chocolate factory tours).  

Surely, surely when I poured this thick, dark elixir on my humble green salad I would be transported to a state of transcendent bliss, where harps strummed serene music and the answer to the very question of being would become clear in the viscous liquid.

Yes. Yes. As I got closer to home my excitement grew. I had purchased a treasure, all for the bargain price of R124.

I burst through the front door, the balsamic clasped triumphantly in my hand. "Wife," I bellowed. "I have sold our last cow for this magic vinegar. When I pour it into the ground a great vine will grow and we'll be rewarded with riches of unimaginable magnitude."

We don't have a cow, she said.

"I know, woman! I’m paraphrasing. Bring me your salad and delight in this forbidden tang."

Have you been drinking at work again?

"What? You know I don't work on Tuesdays. This, this vinegar I bought for you. It cost more than your engagement ring."

Just how cheap was my engagement ring?

"Nevermind that. A great feast is upon us now that we have the divine vinegar. Bring me your greens and taste heaven."

Delicately, I poured it over her salad, taking care not to spill a drop.

"And, how is it, my love."

Fine, I guess. Tastes like vinegar.

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