Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The Berkeley Bowl is the greatest supermarket on earth. It's where I learned that cheddar doesn't have to be bright orange and that you could purchase random spiny little chunks of fish to make a delicious broth, steps in a 20-year-plus journey of becoming ever-more engaged by food and cooking. But it's a weird place, as the Los Angeles Times explains:
The produce emporium -- one of the nation's most renowned retailers of exotic fruits and vegetables -- creates its own bad behavior. Kamikaze shoppers crash down crowded aisles without eye contact or apology for fender-benders. So many customers weren't waiting to pay before digging in that management imposed the ultimate deterrent: Those caught sampling without buying will be banned for life -- no reprieves, no excuses. (Not even "I forgot to take my medication.")

Raphael Breines, who was ejected last year for eating on the premises, said he couldn't decide between two types of apricots, so he sampled both. Security stopped him in the parking lot.

"They treated me like a thief," said the 37-year-old park planner, who was photographed and required to sign a no-trespass agreement. "Technically I was stealing, but I wasn't trying to hide anything. I was just deciding which type of apricot to buy."

Breines, a longtime customer, sent an apology letter, asking to be reinstated. His request was denied.
The really great part of this -- and why I go off-topic to link to the piece -- is the fate of John Glionna, the reporter. He has been, you guessed it, banned from the Berkeley Bowl for life.

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