Middle-class problems: Artisanal breads and twelve varieties of olive oil? These food markets are all too much for me


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The Independent Online

There isn't just cured ham to salivate over, there is jamon iberico de bellota and jamon iberico de recebo. And the breads! Sourdough, pumpernickel, ciabatta , all tumbling down the front of the artisanal baker's stall.

And what's this? Twelve varieties of extra-virgin olive oil, the eyes of their vendor imploring me to try the four he has poured into dipping bowls.

And oh, the crowds, here to partake of these bounties. We press forward, jute bags and scribbled lists in hand, straining to see what has been harvested/ butchered/prepared so well for our delectation.

This is the moment for we market-goers to exercise our fine culinary judgement, to gauge how much fennel the salad needs, to know which other cheese to buy now that, soddit, the manchego has all gone. It could be a Saturday morning farmer's market round the corner, it could be a French marché on a hot evening in August, perhaps it's the local fruit and veg market. Whatever it is, it's all too much for me.

And I know it's my problem, not the stall-holders' nor anyone else's. Come the weekend or the Bank Holiday or my summer vacation, I don't want to have to make any choice at all. I'm all decisioned out. I drive the car, I ride my bike, I play with the kids and I'll eat what I'm given, gratefully, contentedly.

But when I see the food market and the tyranny of that choice, all those balanced judgements to make, I just … choose not to.

Cup of tea and a bacon sandwich, please. I'll be over here when you're finished.