Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's all Polish to me

How about that, then?

I haven’t come across any exclusively Polish shops in Shrewsbury, so I don’t know if that sort of behaviour is limited to just that particular shop in East Yorkshire by just that particular owner. For that matter, I don’t know if his antagonism was directed at the English exclusively, or if people from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were also included for exclusion ("included for exclusion" – heh. Sometimes my turn of phrase is so astonishingly brilliant, even I’m left surprised). I also have no idea if people from other countries – meaning, for instance, me, from India – would be asked to get out as well. It just seems so rude... not to mention, extremely racist! Very very uncool, pretty much on par with British Muslims who taunt British soldiers with being murderers for doing their job, or people from other nations who have settled here by their own choice and yet militate (is that a word?) against the very country that has provided them asylum.

Getting back to the subject (of Polish groceries), I have noticed imported Polish foodstuffs being thoughtfully sold at the big Tesco in Shrewsbury, and also in a wholesale meat market in Telford. They may well be sold by other supermarkets in other places too, but I do not talk of things unwitnessed by my own four eyes.

So, anyway, there’s a whole shelf of Polish-labelled food (the freezer section also has its own shelf full of frozen Polish products), next to a shelf of Indian things and another of Jamaican things. It’s nice to see secularism and tolerance among food stuffs, and I would like to be secular in buying products from all these shelves. Unfortunately I end up only buying from the Indian and Jamaican ones.

It’s not because I’m intolerant of Polish food. My selection is not racially or nationality-wise discriminatory. My problem is, simply, that I don’t speak, read, write or understand, in any format whatsoever, the Polish language. And all the food from Poland is described and labeled exclusively in Polish. Some of them are obviously biscuits or cakes... and others in transparent bottles just as obviously seafood, etc. But there are plenty of other items to completely baffle the non-Polish reader and would-be consumer.

Now I understand that these products were likely meant for Polish consumption within Poland, and I think it’s reasonable enough for the manufacturers not to translate the names and/or contents into English. Why bother, if it’s meant for the Poles, right?

But when these products are imported into the UK, and sold not just in local Pole-run shops (where I would expect the shop owner to provide at least a verbal translation if required), but in mainstream supermarkets, you’d expect that everybody would be able to know what they are and what’s in them. Right?

Again, I’m not expecting the manufacturers at the point of origin to bother with translating their products. However, I DO hold it against Tesco and other British-run establishments for not providing translations. It’s not user friendly in general, not at all friendly to vegetarians who might want to try authentic tinned Polish food but can’t because they don’t know the contents, and definitely not conducive to food secularity!

Yes, I have a *beef against Tesco and I want them to know it.

*I’d have used a vegetarian-friendly term, but I couldn't think of anything that would have a similar impact. “I have a (non-specific) vegetable against Tesco” just doesn’t sound right, does it?


myrtle beached whale said...

you could have a "beet" against them, you could "squash" them, "artichoke" their management, or if you are really upset you could "pea" or "leek" on them.

just another mommy said...

"included for exclusion"

:) brilliant!

Loved the above comment as well!

Kamini said...

myrtle beached whale is on a roll!
I suppose Poland is not really renowned for its cuisine, and so Tesco does not expect hordes of non-Poles to go after that food. They didn't bargain on you, obviously!! Most of the time, I do like to know what I'm eating, but occasionally I feel adventurous and try something unknown. As long as its vegetarian, I'm game.