No fondling allowed
 
I do not like bread-fondlers, those people who have to handle, squeeze and generally feel-up every single loaf of bread at the bakery before they pick one. I always find myself standing behind them, plastic bag in hand, waiting to pick up a random loaf and place it in a bag, watching them press and caress everything in front of them with hands that I would rather not consider what they may they may have done with before.
 
In fact, I don’t even want to consider what they wish they were doing as they fondle the bread, but the whole thing seems to always take them an awfully long time and give them inordinate pleasure.
 
Now I have nothing against bread fondling in the privacy of one’s own home, with a consenting loaf of bread, but I do not think it is appropriate in public.
 
I wish the cashiers would tell them something but they don’t, because bread fondling seems to be a sacred Cypriot tradition, so I am left clutching my nylon bag and politely coughing behind them. Sometimes I will say “excuse me” or “please”. Other times, I will silently fume, because fuming is a very legitimate reaction, as opposed to, say, stabbing someone repeatedly with the tongs they use to pick the cheese pies or hitting them again and again with a loaf of bread until they collapse.
 
After the fondlers are gone, and if I can, I will reach to the back to get the loaf furthest away from me, which I assume is likely not to have been handled to the same extent as those that are easier to reach.
 
It is the same with fruits and vegetables. Shoppers feel the urge to squeeze every single item in front of them, before deciding not to buy any. But at least you can wash vegetables. In the case of bread, you have to make toast.
 
That said, one of the better known books on Cypriot food, and also my favourite cookery book, suggests that the best way to ascertain whether a marrow is ripe and ready to eat is to prick its skin with a fingernail. This is probably true, and I’ll accept that this was once customary. Maybe housewives would stand around the vegetable stall gossiping and sticking their nails in the marrows all day, although it would be reasonable to assume that the ripeness could be determined not just from pricking the marrow but from checking it for fingernail marks- the more pockmarks, the less ripe the marrow would be.
 
And I would like to see a blanket ban on all bread fondling and marrow pricking. I would like to see the fondlers barred from entering supermarkets and bakeries, at least the ones I frequent.
 
I am sure you are with me on this. Together, we must campaign to put a stop to the abuse of thousands of innocent loaves of bread each day, to make bread fondling a thing of the past, for the sake of hygiene and for the sake of bread loaves everywhere. 

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