Elsie had taken a risk, but she knew she had to find a new supplier as Farmer Jones had just retired, his farm was being sold. The new owner was not going to be growing any fruit or vegetables. The fields of crops were going to be built on. A new village. But it is only up the road, so perhaps they will want to visit Elsie’s shop and buy themselves chips. Every cloud has a silver lining, she thought.
Just after Farmer Jones had left, she had sat down and wondered what she was going to do. She had to find a new supplier and quickly. She couldn’t be without the raw ingredients.
Turning to one of her trusted staff, she asked if they had any ideas. Paul had said that he could look online and see if he help her out. Perhaps find a good deal.
Elsie didn’t trust computers. Not one bit did she trust them. Her till was still in £-s-d even though the country had gone decimal well over forty years ago. Change was not something she liked at all.
But Paul was a great lad, he had come from the local secondary school on work experience, and in a way had never left. He was great at preparing the ingredients. He was fantastic with the customers. And he had created a brand new Internet site thingy for the shop. It did seem to be bringing in new customers.
So, letting Paul investigate new suppliers was just another job he could do, and let her get on with the frying of chips. That was the job she loved. Her Arthur had introduced her to it just before he left for the war. At over ninety years old, Elsie was well past her retirement, but what else was she going to do.
So it was that Paul had found a supplier who could supply the required quantity and in double quick time. He quickly got Elsie’s agreement, and within a couple of days, a lorry pulled up outside with the first delivery.
It was at that point, that Elsie started to worry… the lorry had pictures of apples on it, not of potatoes. What was going on? This did not seem quite right at all. The lorry had French number plates as well. Could Paul not have found a British supplier?
In came the bags, into the storeroom. The payment had been made up front, but she signed the driver’s docket and he was away. It was time to test the produce.
The first bag she opened had apples in it. As did the second and the third. By the tenth bag Elsie was crying. What was she going to do? How had this happened?
Paul arrived for his shift, and Elsie, having recovered some composure, but still quite upset, asked him, “When you were at school, what grade did you get in French?”
“I think it was a D, Elsie,” he replied. “Why do you ask?”
“Do you remember what the French word for potato is?” his employer asked him.
“ `Pomme’ I think,” he said quickly, beginning to doubt himself.
“Not exactly,” replied Elsie. “Look in my old dictionary here!” She showed Paul her old, rather battered French-English English-French dictionary. She had had since she was at school.
Pomme : Apple
Pomme de terre : Potato
“I didn’t… did I?” said Paul, beginning to think he knew why Elsie had been crying.
“Yes, you did,” replied Elsie… “So now what are we going to do?”
Paul sat down and had a think, then quickly said, “I’ll go down to the local cash and carry and buy enough potatoes to last us the week myself.”
“What about the apples? Oh so many apples?” asked Elsie.
“We will have an experiment. It might even work.”
So it was that from then on, Elsie’s chip shop had a sweet menu as well as savoury. Deep fried apple chips proved just as popular as the ordinary potato variety. And all because Paul thought outside the box and looked to Europe for a supplier for potatoes.
1. Header image is by “Chips Redux” by Hamburger Hepler, https://flic.kr/p/8cmCnc Used under Creative Commons Licence.
2. Dictionary image. Photo: John McFarland Campbell