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Weighty issues

Are we being completely ripped off by delis suddenly weighing our lunch or is this the future? Ilze Dreyer explores this weighty issue.

by: Ilze Dreyer | 09 Nov 2007

I have a new gripe with this 'weighing of your lunch' thing that has taken South Africa's upscale delis by storm. Last weekend I had a hand sized quiche with a tiny tomato salad and paid a whopping 70 bucks for it after they weighed it. Luckily I had enough money or else I would have had to return a tomato slice or two, dropping a couple of grammes and hopefully a couple of rands.

Here's my problem: I usually have limited funds in my already slim wallet so it is quite important that I'm able to put a price to my lunch. I am also not a 'numbers' person, who can magically process the weight-price ratio of a lentil salad or ravioli and then do a bit of math in my head and go... whirr ka-ching that's what I'll be paying approximately.

The magic number
I'd like to know who comes up with the figure that we end up paying for these 'weighty' meals. Is there a secret lab where they weigh all ingredients raw and cooked, add labour cost and property rental and then come up with a number? How much does a pinch of salt cost, or how do you actually give a weight and monetary value to an ordinary béchamel sauce? Is it the weight of the sauce you pay for, or the price and weight of each individual ingredient?

Weight versus ingredients
I find it all confusing and it smacks of daylight robbery. Let's take the most ordinary of dishes: mac and cheese. If priced on sheer weight, mac and cheese should cost more than a salad. However if the salad has a meat ingredient, fancy lettuce and roast vegetables it should cost more than the mac and cheese because the ingredients are more expensive... yes? But then if you make the mac and cheese with cream, La Molisana macaroni and add expensive cheese to it, it wins on weight and ingredient pricing. Thus making mac and cheese, suddenly a heavyweight price contender on the deli menu.

Then load that mac and cheese, with a salad on a thick plate and suddenly you'll need a credit card to pay for it. I know the plate's weight is suppose to be subtracted from the food but is it really? When I asked this on a previous lunch weight occasion, the server gave me that 'ag shame, poor person' look and said, "Yes of course!"

The future
So if this is the future maybe I should invent a scale you can place in your handbag. Then you can whip it out, deposit your bobotie on a paper plate and with your handy calculator work out the price of your lunch... at least my math skills will improve.

Do you agree, or am I just a Scrooge?


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