Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Hickory Farms: First Job"

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! And more cheese!

I entered employment bliss for my first job—at Hickory Farms in North Star Mall, my favorite mall in San Antonio. The store, sandwiched in between a shoe store and boutique, became my second home for a couple of years while I saved every penny I could for college expenses. No job could have been better!

The owners required employees to pass taste tests on a regular basis. Imagine—part of my job meant I ate cheese all the time! At any moment, the manager could hand me a cube of Swiss or a sliver of cheddar, expecting differentiation between Jarlsberg or a baby Swiss. Could I discern the variations in texture and taste among three different American cheddars? Would I sample Stilton Blue Cheese and describe vividly its robust flavor to a customer?  

Sampling all of the various salamis and meats proved a treat, too. We’d combine meats with cheeses or one of the multitude of breads or crackers, attempting to discover the best combination of flavors. These we’d offer to customers when they wanted a small taste of heaven.

The store dedicated an entire wall to imported teas, feeding my need to try every nuance of the brews. My enthusiasm for the teas helped move the inventory that, prior to my employment, sat undisturbed.

Some first jobs leave a sour taste in the experiences of teens entering the work force. That never happened with me. If I inhale, the aromas and essences of the store linger in my memory, and I smile.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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