If it’s true, the world has truly gone sprouting mad. Apparently, so bad is the shortage of vegetable pickers in the UK that farmers in Boston in Lincolnshire are offering £30 per hour to anyone willing to pick broccoli.
As it happens I’m a huge fan of the little green fiend. Not only because I love the taste but because it’s one of the easiest green vegetables to prepare. There’s no peeling, scraping or excessive washing. Broccoli is prepared in about one minute flat and steams beautifully. Of course, if such rich pickings are on offer to itinerant workers, I can only imagine that the price per head of this cheery green vegetable will go through the roof. How can such production costs be sustained without a sacrifice to the consumer?
Avocados became the fruit of choice a few years ago due to their health-giving properties and trendiness, and prices subsequently shot up. I eat at least three avocados each week but always think it’s rather like Russian Roulette when you buy them. Even those that appear in peak condition can often prove a huge disappointment when you get them home. I open each fruit in anticipation. Will it be good or full of brown and stringy bits? Nothing is more annoying than when you pay a handsome price for one, only to find that it’s rotten inside.
The same can be said for green padron peppers. How are they going to taste? Will they be mild or fiery? They are always delicious but you never know which one which one is going to grab you by the throat and throttle you when least expected.
But broccoli? Come on. We can’t have such a simple and tasty vegetable becoming so exorbitant in price that we can only hope to purchase it in exchange for Louboutin boots. I’m hoping that supply chains will improve and order of some kind will be restored in the field but I’m not counting on it. Luckily here in Majorca I grow kale, one of my favourite green vegetables, so if all else fails I’ll put broccoli onto the back burner until prices fall and common sense prevails.
Okay, I raise the white flag and admit mia culpa. I was one of those fools that once upon a time actually thought Justin Trudeau, Mr Canada, was a transparent, caring and principled individual: the kind you’d want to be your prime minister. But then he didn’t care about baby seals and failed to protect their interests, and my lip curled. Commercial enterprise proved more edifying to him and then he suddenly became as porous as a sponge. Whatever the cause, however limp and manufactured, Team Trudeau was on side. Recently, he managed to slither back into power by a whisper but he’s no longer Mr Magic. The Canadian electorate has seen that it’s all a veneer: he’s all gleaming white teeth and no substance. There’s been wholesale ridicule over his latest ‘woke’ tweet too which uses the sexual identities acronym of ‘2SLGBTQQIA’ which some wag described as accidentally head butting a keyboard. Just about sums it up.
In China’s public parks, middle-aged and elderly women arrive each day for communal dancing to loud Chinese patriotic music. This is a way of connecting with each another and also taking regular exercise but their bullying behaviour is getting on the nerves of local younger residents. The grannies use loud speakers and don’t give a damn about others who might be sleeping or wanting quiet time in their homes and offices. There have been arguments and police called to break up spats but now younger people are taking revenge. Increasingly, communities opposed to the blaring music are buying stun gun-style devices to disable speakers from 50 metres away, and can you blame them? I’m all for older people communing and having fun but this does seem extreme. Some more considerate oldies are now using individual headphones to interact so that the dancing is soundless as in silent discos. Perhaps this might prove the only way in the future to keep the peace.
Riding the wave of change
I loved the report about the Riverside restaurant, north of Bangkok. The recent floods affecting many parts of Thailand have proven a menace, and yet enterprising owner, Titiporn Jutimanon, has turned the disaster to his advantage. His restaurant sits on the Chao Phraya River but instead of closing down, he decided to welcome guests to eat in the flooded al fresco restaurant and to surf the waves of passing boats while they dined. At first guests were tremulous but soon found it hugely fun and challenging to dine in knee deep cold water. The dining sessions became a viral sensation and now the restaurant is so popular that there are two evening sittings. It seems that when large boats past diners, their chairs and even tables of dishes can be knocked off course and sent floating down the river. Everyone seems to find this hilarious. I suppose it’s a heck of a lot better than finding oneself floating off into the sunset. Therefore, while dining Thais laugh manically, they’re really just counting their blessings!
Anna Nicholas’s seventh Mallorca travel title, Peacocks in Paradise, is now available to purchase at all good UK bookshops & via amazon. In Mallorca it’s available at Universal Bookshop, Alameda shop in Soller and the Atelier in Fornalutx and in Palma bookshops.