Thank you, Liz, of the local Fresh & Wild store, for brightening my day up. Well, I say "Liz", in fact her name badge said something different, but I have a need to protect my source, as you'll see.
I wanted to get a pressie for Su, who lent me her flat in Pimlico last night, so I nipped into Fresh and Wild for some of the completely addictive chocolate truffles that they sell.
Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found. They had caramel truffles (meh), and truffled walnuts (ugh) but I couldn't find the plain chocolate truffles anywhere. This is odd, as they sell them by the palletload. There are normally stacks of them by the tills, often with free sample bowls, in a similar deal to the "the first hit is free" offer that heroin dealers are reputed to make, and presumably for similar reasons.
But not today. So, I buttonholed the delightful "Liz". "Well," she said, "Actually, we do have some, but we're not allowed to sell them." She glanced around in case the management were listening, then leaned in conspiratorially. "But I can probably get you some for free."
It turns out that they've had to stop selling them for legal reasons. Not, luckily, because they've had a class-action suit after a bout of food poisoning, but because a German food firm who have the same name as the American company who make the truffles have objected to someone else selling imported chocolates under that name in Europe. So the truffles are fine — it's just the packaging that's illegal.
"Liz" told me all this when she came back from store room, illicit truffles hidden under her apron. Unfortunately, she really did have to stick within the law and the company policy and give me just the truffles, in their sealed foil bag, and throw the box away, otherwise she'd have gotten into trouble.
After she'd told me the story, I asked for another recommendation for chocolates, as I didn't want to give an anonymous foil bag as a present. "Liz"'s favourite was on the display next to us: a slab of white chocolate with almonds and cranberries embedded. Yum. I bought those and a box of Green & Black's organic chocolates to boot.
I secreted the foil bag of smuggled illegal truffles in my pocket, and "Liz" and I headed back to her till.
Bless her innocence, "Liz" truly didn't realise what I was up to with my line of questioning. Light only dawned after I'd paid and I was about to leave, when the only thing left on the counter was the almond and cranberry chocolate. "Your friend will love that," she said, "It's really nice."
"What? But my friend doesn't even like almonds. I think you'll find those aren't mine," I said, gently pushing them towards her, "They must be yours."
"Liz" protested, but there's not much you can do when you've got to stay at the till, and the other person — who's allegedly always right, of course — keeps walking.
So, I have a box of Green & Black's chocolates for Su, some hooky truffles for a rainy day (I'll probably take them into work and share them around; if I open them myself they'll be gone in half an hour, no matter how much will-power I think I've got) and "Liz" has a surprised grin and some of her favourite chocolate.
I'm not sure there's a moral to this story, but there is a tip: if you're in Europe, and you've got a Fresh and Wild nearby, get down there now and ask where all the nice chocolate truffles have gone. If you're lucky, you'll meet a "Liz" too. Karmic payment is optional, but it makes you feel good :)