Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Wild Garlic Foodswap
So, yesterday I dispatched some parcels at my local Post Office. A task that ordinarily should have been quite straightforward. After all, people post stuff all the time. Cards, letters, gifts, mementos, things, you know. I may have told this story before but I once knew a guy at university who used to post his underwear home to be washed. Seriously. Once a week he would receive five pairs of pristine and fragrant boxers through the letterbox and he would diligently pop five pairs of disheveled, sour and slightly stiffened shreddies into the same Jiffy bag, to post back to his Mum. As for the remaining two days at the weekend, I think he went commando. Or turned a pair inside out at the very least.
Anyway, like I said, people post stuff all the time. Yet when I arrived and plonked four packages down on the counter, I was met immediately with a steely-eyed glare and given that the person in question must have been five foot tall and had a rather frizzy brown mane; the whole situation soon turned quite surreal. She reminded me of one half of Thing One and Thing Two, from Dr Seuss. However, she was a whole lot grumpier in her demeanor, as opposed to mischievous, and without the red jumpsuit too. Whatever, she plainly didn't like the cut of my jib.
"What are you sending?" she said, tersely.
Noting her suspicion I had to think quickly, so I replied with "Oh just some stuff, going out to some people. Some people I sort of know." Which was a rubbish response really.
"What do you mean people you sort of know?"
"Well I know them from the Internet!" I said brightly. "And I have met some of them. Once or twice. Actually, one of them has said that I could always use her loo, should I ever need it. Because I drive past her house from time to time on the way to Hereford." Which again, was another stupid thing to say.
She frowned. "But what exactly are you sending?"
At this point I thought about lying and saying that they were 'fabric samples'. But I've been down that road before, pretending that I am haberdasher, with intricate knowledge of zips, thread and ribbons and have been caught out. Technically, you should never use Velcro in place of a decent snap fastener.
So I decided to tell the truth.
"They are plants."
This really seemed to piss her off.
"What sort of plants?!!!"
"They are plants from my garden, OK?? Cuttings. Cuttings that I want to send to people. Jesus, what is the problem here?"
I had just become Kevin the teenager.
"I am asking because these packages stink to high heaven and I haven't got a clue as to what is in them."
There was extra emphasis on the word 'clue' here and I swear one of her bulging eyes was going to pop out of its socket. Suddenly I felt like Billy Hayes, being violently interrogated by a five foot malevolent, fuzzy haired imp. So with the world crashing in on me and the promise of a nasty buggering in a Turkish jail looming, I simply whimpered:
"It's just wild garlic. I am just sending out some wild garlic, to people I sort of know on the Internet. It grows in my garden. It's like a weed. It's everywhere. I......I just want to get rid of it."
Momentarily, she softened and whipped out a pamphlet from behind the counter. A flimsy two paged handbook of some description and she must have spent at least five minutes scanning the scant words on the page.
"This is not going abroad is it?"
"No, just to London. And to various addresses in the Home Counties," I replied, beaten.
"Cambridge and Oxford are not Home Counties."
"You are right. I'm sorry."
To which she paused. For perhaps another five minutes.
"OK, I'll agree to sending these packages out but I MAKE NO PROMISES THAT THEY WILL GET TO THEIR DESTINATIONS," she boomed. And with that she proceeded to punch the computer and rip out tickets and ferociously slap stamps down onto parcels labelled 'Fragile' before barking out the total cost.
"Can I take this bottle of washing up liquid too?" I said, lifting up and wiggling a bottle of Happy Shopper Lemon Fresh.
Oh, she just tutted at that and said I would have to pay at the other till 'Over there.' Me being the obvious fucking idiot for not realising in the first place. Which I did. And queued for another five minutes of my life.
The whole procedure was, in other words, quite traumatic and as a dry run for my business concept of 'FU Wild Garlic by Mail' I am not sure if this one has legs. Maybe I will have to look down other logistical avenues and avoid that Post Office like the plague in future.
In the meantime, I do hope that Victoria, Ireena, Chloe and Sophie get their plants soon. And not bags of compost in a couple of months time. Slapped with quarantine stickers, having journeyed half-way around the world.
STOP PRESS: Word has got back to me that someone has successfully received their wild garlic by post. So perhaps this does work!
If you fancy a bunch of wild garlic to use or grow, drop me an email and I will happily send some in exchange for something food related or otherwise. You have about another two weeks to make the most of it this year and I will add you to the food swap board below.
These are the swaps made so far:
Niamh - Eat Like A Girl. Coffee, cake and a Snapchat tutorial.
Jas - Gin and Crumpets. Preserved bergamots and a bag of cookies.
Jennie - All The Things I Eat. Almond and lemon drizzle cake