Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cakes and birch trees - Suzhou, China

The stack of papers...
In order to sooth L's recurring sugar abstinence crises instead of buying him an ice cream today I've opted for a slice of mille-feuille. I go to a fancy little bakery nested in the basement of a posh shopping mall and I order the cake. Instead of serving me right away a guy wearing a chef hat scribbles something on a receipt sheet. Actually this is not a very accurate term as the sheet works as a receipt only at the end of a long procedure that might make sense if you were purchasing a hundred kg of cement, a case of car sparks or, as we are already at it, a 20kg vanilla bag for your own bakery. Not for a single mignon cake though. The procedure prescribes in fact to take this three-multi-colored-copy form, go to a centralized cash register station serving all the shops of this section of the mall, pay for your order, receive two of the sheets correctly filled by a printer connected to the till and yet another receipt, go back to the bakery where an employee will keep one of the two sheets and give you the remaining one, the extra receipt and your cake. That, in order to make sure that he beats every relevant world record, he has wrapped in a plastic sheet and stored in a paper bag. I reckon that about fifteen birch trees have had to be felled in order to supply the procedure with the necessary raw material. Paper that everyone will obviously throw in the first trash bin at hand right after leaving the shop. The aggravating aspect of the situation is that this is not just a fancy of the managers of this particular mall. It works like that pretty much everywhere: shopping centers, department stores, food courts. You want to buy a lipstick? You'd like to eat a quick noodle soup? You need a bottle of honey? Well, then you have to take the stack of papers through all the steps of the route, until you finally throw it on a heap of garbage.
Hopefully they will recycle it. Well, actually, considering that…alright...hopefully they will…

More photos below:

The paperwork printer
One of the centralized cash registers
The poor baker, equipped with a chef hat, demoted to simple office clerk

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