Sunday, 14 February 2016 20:31

It’s probably best not to spot-check too much…

I recently read that the Department of Labour Inspection was planning spot checks on supermarkets and malls.

For a moment I panicked: “Oh no, they’ll have to shut down all the island’s food shops!” but then I realised with relief that they’ll ‘only’ be checking if the employees are safe – not the customers.

I am not a squeamish eater, having lived on several more ‘exotic’ islands than Cyprus. And still, I do sometimes end up scolding myself, “Oh come on, it’s not any worse than the street food you used to eat in Africa!”

However, considering the fact that we are in the EU where there are regulations concerning hygiene around food, one is allowed to expect some sort of care and awareness.

I’ve made some very polite, and carefully-formulated comments in some of the small grocery shops about the food in open buckets right on the floor, over which passerbys casually bend, poking around with their bare hands to inspect the goods’ quality, but came short of being shooed out of the store, or at the very least being given ‘that look’.

And no, I have never gotten sick, and yes, I do have the option of buying vacuum-packed goods – which may not mean that much either on the island of ‘EU-who?

Regulation-what?’ But for the most part, I just keep reminding myself that I do have a solid traveller’s stomach and a good sense of humour.

However, I do draw the line at the nuts at my local neighbourhood shop which are stored in open, waist-high wooden containers, right before the check out, where customers regularly help themselves to a snack to shorten the wait.

Just the other day, I observed an elderly gentleman grabbing a handful of salted peanuts, rubbing the skin back into the open container before throwing them into his mouth!
I had to laugh – I guess it’s just how things are done.

And actually, the fact that shops still (or again) close on Wednesday afternoons and much of the weekend, would make anything more modern look and feel silly.

Somehow, there is a quaintness to it all – getting some final shopping done at noon on Wednesday nibbling on some peanuts from the open bins at the checkout, maybe grabbing a quick olive from that nearby bucket, having a sniff of that halloumi next to it, casually chatting, hopefully not coughing onto all those yummy nuts. But hey, they have salt on them to preserve them and will be fine.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of February 5 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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