Sunday, December 03, 2006

Really expensive bread

Focaccia, London, Ontario - click to embiggen (extra points if you pinpoint the source of the word)

Where we shop for food is often one of the most local, personal decisions we will make in our day-to-day lives. It's no different in my neck of the woods. Like most cities, London's got a fairly broad array of supermarkets. From low-price-leaders to upper-end gourmet-focused specialty shops and megastores, we're never at a loss for places to forage for our next meal.

As I cruised the aisles of the neighborhood Loblaws last week, I came upon a sample lady offering focaccia. I'll admit right now that I'm a sucker for these kiosks. As long as it's not massively treif (read shellfish, meat, mixes meat and milk, or made of anything from a pig), I'll bite. Then I wonder if it's polite to eat and run, as if I'm somehow more compelled to actually buy the product now that I've had a free sample (yes, I have a guilty soul.)

So as I happily gobbled my free sample of focaccia and smiled broadly at the lovely taste and texture, my wife asked if I wanted to pick up a package. Thoughts of sweet, fruit-filled pastry-like bread for breakfast danced in my head as she nodded and picked up a package.

Fast forward to the checkout aisle. Six dollars for a tiny loaf of fruity pastry. Six bucks! But the next day's breakfast beckoned. Yes, I am a sucker.

For six bucks, you just know I needed to take a picture of the thing. But I'll be watching those sample ladies with a much warier eye on my next trip into these hellish bastions of consumerism.

Your turn: What do you do when you encounter the sample ladies at the supermarket?


craziequeen said...

'embiggen' - from the Simpsons.....something something embiggens the spirit etc etc...

woo hoo!!!

That bread is just begging to be torn and eaten......

Michele sent me here again, honey :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh my..that bread looks heavenly. Do you think you could send me a piece? :)

I tend to talk to the folks giving the samples. I just feel so guilty if I don't.

craziequeen said...

My food allergies mean I can't taste food samples - and my H&S training means I don't want to [wrinkles nose]

Carmi, would you like a kitten? Ginger, a year and a half old, slightly [crosses fingers behind back] floofie, answers to the name of Charlie......will certainly keep you on your toes! :-)



Bobkat said...

Hi. Great close up of the bread! It looks delicious. I must say I would have been a sucker for something like that even without the lady at the kiosk! I must say I tend to avoid them these days having been 'conned' like you in the past but I got hooked by one recently who was giving samples of Lindt chocolate. Of course I felt obliged to buy some!

Glad you liked my pics of Central Park. High praise from you! :-)

Unique Designs from Zazzle said...

I brace myself for all of the underfed renegade children running amuck as their arms shoot through my torso toward the samples

Anonymous said...

It depends on what time of day I am shopping and whether I have my children with me...There used to be so many that if you went at the right time you could have supper and a sweet! I usually try the sample and feel guilty that I refuse to spend that much on the product.

clicked from Michele's

Thumper said...

I love the sample people (50-50 gender solit in the places I go...) We like to go to Costco on Thursdays and Fridays, when the sample people are there en masse, just to see what they're offering. We can get enough tiny little freebies to pretty much count as lunch, and we often find something new and tasty to add to our List O'Things We'll All Eat.

srp said...

Here from Michele.
My dad loves the sample ladies at Costco, usually seven or eight of them are set up. He can almost make a meal out of a trip there.
No, I don't feel the least bit compelled to buy their wares after sampling, unless it was already on my list.

I can't imagine $6 for bread but it does look good..... Note to self: time for me to start making my potica bread.

srp said...

Here again from Michele.
What is in that bread? I see raisins and can imagine there must be cinnamon but what else?

Azgreeneyes said...

I gratefully thank them, as they have all just bought me at least 15 more minutes of shopping semi-quietly while my kids enjoy these new tasted...Then I curse them for providing my kids with another item to 'please, please, please' over!

Here from michele's this time

sage said...

Great looking bread, I see why you brought it, it might only cost $5 on this side of the border... As for those ladies giving out samples, I sample, thank them and smile and move on (unless it's really good then I find a way to go back down the aisel for a second helping.

Anonymous said...

I honestly didn't know that was bread at first glance. The supermarket ladies? I shop at Wal-Mart (I do hate the company with a passion because of what they did to the small Mom & Pop stores). I usually avoid the sample ladies, unless I'm really hungry.

kenju said...

I love focaccia, and I buy it sometimes, but it doesn't have fruit in it and it is only $3.50 per loaf at our local fancy food store.

I sometimes snack on their samples, but it depends on whether I have just eaten lunch or not, and what it is they are offering. We went to the grandopening of a new Costco here 2 weeks ago and we could have eaten a whole meal there if we had known they were going to offer so many different kinds of samples! It was wonderful!

Michele sent me again.

Anonymous said...

Damn, that looks yummy. Terrific pic!

Personally, I don't sample in public places. I'm paranoid about germs, (yes, yes, I know there are gloves involved and individual cups) and the thought of all kinds of people breathing all over the samples, makes me a bit queasy. :O

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I haven't a clue where that word comes from...! (lol)
And I've never encountered sweet foccaio...Hmmmm, I thought I knew all about Foccacio, but I see I know nothing!

If the food at these Kiosks is something that intrigues meI will try it.....and sometimes I end up buying more...and then, sometimes I don't!
I know a few people who practically make a meal out of these little tidbits!

utenzi said...

Michele sent me over, Carmi.

I'd not do well if I had Jewish dietary restrictions. There's times when it seems half my calories come from one part or another of a pig. Tasty critters but with the notable exception of the movie Babe, they're not very photogenic.

I don't know when the last time was when I ate a sample from a grocery store. I'm pretty sure it's been over 5 years, maybe even 10 years. I tend not to eat food from people I don't know unless I'm in a restaurant. It's not anything reasonable, just a quirk.

Anonymous said...

Well, I did a little research and found out that The word focacia is derived from the latin word meaning hearth. So where's my free sample, Carmi?

I was in Loblaws yesterday and I saw those ladies giving out samples of that yummy cranberry/raisin focaccia bread, too. I took a couple samples! Gawd that bread tastes amazing! I've never bought the cranberry/raisin; I usually go for the herb one with rosemary and olive oil, which is sooooo good, especially with some red wine.'re making me hungry!

Funny thing is, I was thinking that I will probably break down over the holidays and buy some of the cranberry/raisin bread finally. Though 6 bucks does sound pretty expensive!

Oh, and I only take samples of food if it is easy to eat (ie, bread, as opposed to something greasy or messy or with strange sauces).

jsdaughter said...

I feel sooo deprived! I very rarely ever see samples in our stores- and I've never eaten foccaio.. It looks yummy.

Jill said...

How very odd! I thought for sure that this was panettone. Where I come from, focaccia is made more "savory" with rosemary and other herbs. As for free samples? Nope, I don't partake. And I get mad at people who clog up the aisles because they're standing in line with their carts to get a single bite of food. Does that make me a Grinch? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hello, Michelle sent me (not to quote the instructions or anything... well yeah, I guess so). Oddly enough I had just stopped in here from Jessica's link (Hidden Willow), and I wanted to mention that you have a wonderful gift with the camera. I particularly like some of your recent photos; the birch trees are beautiful. Glad I stopped in!

Anonymous said...

I came from Michelle's.
I eat and run from the kiosks. All that food is calorie free, right?

Anonymous said...

Looks like great bread!! But 6 bux?! cmon!?

I love sample ladies! I always taste, then pretend to buy. Its great and everyone is happy! ;)

Thanks for stopping by


Anonymous said...

Hi Carmi,
I do like to scout out their offerings. They do seem to have meat a fair bit so I don't bite.

That's a lot of money for bread even if it is artesenal (sp?). Nice to get a treat tho.

I'll link to my food blog instead since it seems appropriate for the post.

Jill said...

Thank you, Carmi. Good to hear from you. Happiness to you and your family as well. jk

Anonymous said...

sometimes i go to costco just to taste all the samples so that i don't have to buy myself lunch.

michele sent me.

Anonymous said...


Hello! Michele sent me!


kenju said...

We had focaccia in Italy in Oct.; drizzled in olive oil with fresh minced herbs - it was heavenly!

Michele sent me back, Carmi!

Anonymous said...

I used to be shy about it, but no more, delicious looking bread.

Anonymous said...

That bread looks delicious but rarely do I do the samples....only in a gourmet style place would I indulge. I am too afraid of the germs that might have landed on the sample bites.....But if it is an upscale place and something I wanted to try I'd be all over it.

Michele sent me tonight! I hope you enjoyed your bread...pricey but sometimes we just have to say what the heck and splurge a little!

Natsthename said...

ANd they always do seem to be ladies, don't they? If the sample they are offering seems edible, I'll take it. Sometimes, it's some weird new product I just have no interest in, so I politely pass.

But that foccacia...MMMM. Are those cranberries? Looks delicious. I'm always marveled by your photos!

scrappintwinmom said...

I usually ignore the sample ladies, unless I'm hungry. And to answer your question:

To make something better. The opposite of belittle.

From a famous saying by Jebediah Springfield/Hans Sprungfeld: "A Noble Spirit Embiggens the Smallest Man", evoking the manner in which its antonym, belittle, was coined by Thomas Jefferson. It is likely a creative conflation of big with the word embolden (to render bold; to hearten, to encourage). The quotation appears on the statue of Jebediah Springfield in front of City Hall.

Examples of use:

"He's embiggened that role."
"Patriots will embiggen America."

...So I guess its a Simpsons thing.

Anonymous said...

Are those raisins? I took some photos of food at a party today and thought of you! I'm micheling.

David Edward said...

heyt friend - just stopping by for a view

Anonymous said...

Oh, gorgeous bread.
(I'm about to attempt baking challah for a friend, btw. There will only be pictures if I'm successful.)

But $6? $6 Canadian?
That's less than two drinks at Starbucks, and totally worth it from the picture you took.

Anonymous said...

If I'm by myself, I avoid them. I'm like you with the guilt thing (Catholics have that going on, too!). But if S is with me and wants to try something, I let him. He knows we're not going to buy any, but it keeps him happy, and anything that can keep him happy while we traverse the hell that is our local supermarket is bonus.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Embiggen is a perfectly crommulent word.