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Range Gourmet

  Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair

        ^BNanette^K^H (Gone but not forgotten) 1946-2020


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Peel me a grape

by Larry Geller

Send out for scotch, boil me a crab
Cut me a rose, and make my tea with the petals
Just hang around, pick up the tab
Never out think me, just mink me
Polar bear rug me, don't bug me
New Thunderbird me, you heard me
I'm getting hungry, peel me a grape

[Peel Me a Grape, Written by David Frishberg]

Now, that’s luxury. To get someone to peel your grapes for you.

In Japan, peeling grapes is pretty much standard practice, though.

Japanese grapes can be huge (a serving might be two of them), but those have very astringent skins, and it’s a totally different experience to pop them whole or to peel them first. As we know, it’s healthier to peel them anyway, since grapes are often sprayed generously with pesticides. So peeling is a good thing. It’s also easy in Japan—the grapes are either bred or selected to practically jump right out of their skins. We learned the technique when we lived there, though I was never very good at it with the average grape.

Unfortunately, similar grapes bought in the USA are more attached to their outsides. I had long wondered if any were imported directly from Japan so that I could try peeling those. Look, this may not interest you, but if you are in Japan and can get one to try, please do, and then let me know if you are still laughing (you can start saving for your grape treat now, they are not cheap).

Grape gripe

So a display over at Don Quijote grabbed my eye. The picture was of the large (if not giant) grapes I knew would be super-special if they came from Japan, and indeed the sign describes the qualities of the Japanese Kyoho grapes. Trouble is, on the left, it says plainly enough, “grown in Chile.” That makes sense, it’s just April here in the Northern Hemisphere, so they would logically have to come from the bottom side of our planet. But wait… over on the right is a “Manager’s Special” sign. The manager says that these are “Product of USA.”

From grape to gripe

Ok, Don Quijote has problems with either their signs or honesty (see more below). So while believing these must be from Chile, now I have a whole new gripe. Why are they being represented as products of the USA if they are from Chile?

Just at that moment a young lady came by with a button that said “May I Help You?” So we cornered her and asked where these grapes actually came from. Picking up a package, we showed her that it said nothing about country of origin (and no, you can’t tell from the bar code, as I found out on returning home and looking it up).

She called out to a produce worker. He was dressed in his authoritative green produce apron and maybe should know. “From Japan,” he replied. If only!

Our helpful young lady shrugged her shoulders.

Oh, well. It’s not important, I’m not going to buy any. At that low price, they can’t be any good (see, we lived in Japan too long maybe).

Attention All Shoppers: Caveat emptor

If this were just an isolated instance, it would be of no importance whatsoever. Stuff happens in retail. But Don Quijote has had some very interesting signage.

For example, just before the Christmas holidays:

Amazing - the regular price

Here’s a Coby MPC-883 MP3 player advertised as a “Christmas Special Price.” In fact, an “Amazing Price!!” with two exclamation points.

I had been looking for a cheap player with more capacity than my ancient 256 MB Muvo Slim (a great player, by the way, for its time). So the price looked familiar to me, from scanning the shelves on prior visits. Wasn’t that the regular, not-so-amazing (!!) price? I had thought it was too much for a player without a display, and Coby isn’t a brand I’m too fond of. Wasn’t this the same player, at the same price, that I had seen earlier?

Nearby, just around the corner, was the answer:


Yup, the same player, at the same “Everyday Low” not-so-amazing price.

After Christmas, this is the price that remained on the item.

Of course, we know this happens in retail.

Moving on… well before the holidays I had noted this amusing product (one of the pleasures of shopping at Don Quijote for me is running into this stuff):

Drink up

Yup, that’s a replica of the famous Belgian statue "Manneken Pis"immortalized in plastic on top of a drink dispenser. The Japanese on the box to the left, translated, is roughly “Saaa… drink up!”

I suppose it might be trying to evoke that great feeling when you finally do locate a public restroom. Or maybe not, I’m not sure.

A cellphone camera is a great thing. I also snapped this picture of the drink dispenser:

For kids of all ages

The box to the right advises that it is suitable for anyone from kids to adults.

Yeah, it’s a different culture, over there.

So this drink dispenser is supposed to be at home on the family dinner table or something.

Aside from the amusement factor, there was this sign, which is why I started snapping in the first place:

Soda or not soda

The sign clearly states that it is an “Electronic Soda Dispenser.” Hmm, thought I, if you put anything with gas in it (like beer?), wouldn’t it, um, be pissing all by itself while you ate dinner around it? After all, it’s just a container with a little pump. Checking further (click on the pic for larger), it says less prominently that it is not suitable for soda. The box did not say anything about soda that I could find, this is a Don Quijote invention.

Of course, we know this happens in retail.

The problem with Don Quijote is, it happens too often. I don’t snap pictures of every suspicious sign I see. Their signs are big and bold, something I appreciate and which is unique to this chain. It would be nice if they were not misleading. I don’t know whether I can trust any of them.


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