My Saturday mornings have an inevitable quality to them. No shopping; no eating. Unless I do my shopping after a hard day's graft pushing paper, the only feasible opportunity to shop for food is on a Saturday morning. We go en famille. This way, no one is left to enjoy themselves at home in front of the tele. Oh no, and no one can accuse me of forgetting some essential item that they wanted either. They want, they get it.
So, it was off to Norma as usual last Saturday. Imagine my horror at seeing stacks of Advent calenders filled with chocolates, ghastly large flat boxes of low-quality Christmas chocs, and kougloff which, I imagine will go off between now and Christmas and, if it doesn't, I certainly don't want to be the one eating it!
Such were the surprises at Norma. What amazed me was that we have Christmas kit before they've addressed the next marketing opportunity: Halloween.
Reverse retail therapy continued at Intermarche where my eldest rushed off to spend his birthday money on something silly, as instructed by his Nana, and came back with Pokemon cards and a plastic ball filled with 70 chewing gums. I don't think you can get much sillier than that, so one could say that he successfully fulfilled his brief.
We made our way up to the fish counter to look for special offers. In the past, I've bought plaice at 3.50€/kilo and sardines at 1.50€/kilo. One of Saturday's offers was limande feuille on sale at 7.90€/kilo. What might they be? I hear you ask. Well, they are tiny tiny lemon sole (flounder family); so tiny they are transparent, and measuring no more than about 10cm in length. I have just looked up the regulations on flounder fishing, and it clearly says that they must be 25cm in length minimum.
I accosted the nice chap who served me my filet de loup de mer and asked him what was the meaning of selling undersized fish. His response was fairly predictable, if a little strange. Firstly, he said that it was better to fish for babies as they didn't make babies themselves whereas grown fish did. The illogical nature of this left me incredulous and I suggested that the babies would be, if they lived, the future adults who would make babies once all the others had been fished out. He retorted that the supermarket wouldn't sell them if there wasn't a demand, and that people just had to stop buying them. If the Intermarche stopped selling them, people would go to a different supermarket, and they would lose business.
Nile perch was also on sale despite the over-fishing in Africa and the impending collapse of fish stocks in Lake Victoria (not necessarily a bad thing for the other fish in the lake, but a very bad thing for the fishermen who live off them).
Strangely enough, just last week I read in the Telegraph about British supermarkets and how customer power can change supermarket buying procedures so they buy fish from sustainable sources using less destructive methods of fishing. I put this to the fish lad and he told me that people in southern Europe don't care about ecological issues as much as northern folk and so French supermarkets don't care either.
I really believe I'll have to write to the head office of Intermarche and suggest that they get ahead of the crowd by marketing ecologically fished fish.
Who knows, we may save the (fish) world yet.