Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Price Of Everything Has Scone Up

How much? Just for a baked tattie? No way am I paying that.

And so my colleague had to sit in silence while I tucked in to my bowl of soup and wholemeal scone.

We’d paused at a classy joint on the A9 in Easter Ross for lunch but apparently some of the prices were out of order. It was genuinely the first time I’d eaten anywhere where someone had refused to pay.

With the arrival of dad-hood my interest in the price of food has surged. Before it wouldn’t have occurred to me what anything cost. Just call me Wayward. Fiscally Wayward.

I usually subscribe to the notion that in a restaurant or café a large chunk of the price should have something to do with the surroundings, the ambience, the service and so on. A tattie does indeed only cost pennies but is it high quality, well prepared on nice crockery in good surroundings and served with a smile?

Increasingly I’ve been packing a lunch. I have a pal whose daily routine involves a posh coffee and a Marks and Spencer sandwich. While I agree coffee deserves to be well made and I of course doff my cap at M&S the King of Sandwich-makers I can’t help thinking how those costs rack up over the course of a week. Over a month it must be about £100.

One of the perils of packing your own lunch is forgetting where you’ve left your food. To this day, many years after the event, Wife-features still refers to the ‘Banumper’ incident. It’s too harrowing for me to talk about in detail. All I’ll say is it involved a banana. And a jumper. Left in a rucksack. For quite a while.

Today WF questioned my need for three flasks. I didn’t dignify this with a response. (As anyone knows, you need a small flask for small quantities of tea/coffee/soup and a large one for large quantities. And then of course you need a back up in case one of your primary flasks goes down in the course of duty.)

The question was prompted by the discovery of a flask that had been used to hold some delicious homemade broth. Admittedly this was a few weeks ago. But with the appropriate ‘hazmat’ procedures normally reserved for a chemical supertanker running aground and by banishing Wife-features and Toddler from the kitchen for a few hours I was able to rehabilitate the offending vacuum device. It lives to serve hot refreshments another day.

Yes, there is no doubt it’s getting pricier eating out, out there. I overheard a couple of wifies in Inverness the other day discussing which restaurant to hold a celebratory dinner at. It turns out, they claimed, all the eateries are jacking up their prices, blaming the cost of fuel.

Through in Castle Greyskull (Aberdeen) I stopped at a favourite haunt only to gulp at the combined cost of a bowl of soup and an Americano: £6.50. Perversely I added a scone and jam to my humongous bill but this only raised the total by £2 and the scone was the size of a generously proportioned bungalow. I had to take half of it away with me to eat on the train later. Expensive soup; cheap cake. Where’s the nanny state when you need it?

Maybe we need a soup/baked tattie price regulator? Let’s face it - oil/petrol will continue to spiral so let’s tackle what really matters: surely a serving of carrot and coriander or leek and potato should be capped at £2.50. I would perhaps tolerate £2.90 but it’d have to be a pretty exotic concoction - spicy butternut squash for example.

Of course there’s Wife-features’ Lush Lentil soup. But it’s priceless.

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