Thursday, January 03, 2008

The best food shop in the whole of Cambridge

Today I went shopping on my own in Cambridge for the first time in a long time. I went to buy Polly's birthday present.

I walked past the alley where the Cambridge Cheese Shop is. This is the best food shop in the whole of Cambridge.

I imagine Nigel Slater returning home after a morning at the Cambridge Cheese Shop, scribbling a blushingly rhapsodic love letter to it's charms before falling asleep, deliriously spent, face down on a kitchen table littered with freshly discarded specialty cheese wrap.
The best food shop in Cambridge
This was the second time since moving to Cambridge that I've had the time and inclination to visit the Cambridge Cheese shop without the pressure of children or health regime to restrict me. The first time was about 3 years ago but I didn't buy anything.

I walked into the intimate cheese shop and said "Hello."

The man behind the counter said "Hello."

A massive, all engulfing blanket of hateful silence filled the shop.

I looked briefly at the cheeses, long enough to register how brilliant they were but not long enough to invite a conversation with the shopkeeper.

I turned to look at the olives for a little while. They were opposite the counter, giving me an excuse to avoid the gaze of the shopkeeper.
The best food shop in Cambridge
The only possible conversation I could have had would go like this:

ME: How much are these olives?

SHOPKEEPER: Those olives are £27.33 per kilo.

ME: Ok, and how much is this piece of cheese?

SHOPKEEPER: This piece of cheese is £16.

ME: O.K. Thanks very much. Bye.

SHOPKEEPER: Bye... (almost imperceptibly, as I walk out of the door) waste my time.

I looked up at the shelves of the shop, not even registering what was on them, thinking "OK. In about 10 seconds I will leave this shop and I'll feel really disturbed by the experience," then I stumbled, choking on my humiliation, out of the shop.

This is what going to the best food shop in Cambridge is like.

It'll probably be gone soon.

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