Cucumbers, of all things, have made the front pages this week as the somewhat improbable carrier for a new virulent killer strain of E-coli. The first reflex instinct of the Germans, who appear to be at the centre of the outbreak, was to blame someone else. That was unfortunate for the Spanish who were the convenient target given, cucumber production accounts for some 70,000 jobs and 10% of the total Spanish vegetable export market; at a time when the Spanish economy can least absorb new economic shocks.
The Germans apparently now accept that their claims were in fact erroneous and have apologised to the incandescent Spanish who are now throwing phrases around like, "sufficient reparations," which may find some historical resonance in other parts of Europe. Somewhat predictably, the Germans are now seeking to compensate the Spanish for their reputational and economic loss through the the EU. Why on earth we should contribute to paying for a German propensity to blame all and sundry without regard to the facts I have no idea. The interesting political point here though is that the negative PR generated, as the Germans and Spanish play the blame game, will hardly make the task of German politicians any easier in continuing to burden their taxpayers with bailing out the PIIGS.
Whilst we're on the subject, and much more important to the Haslemere average commuter thinking wistfully of a weekend at home in the sunshine or, if he's really lucky, at Lords for the Test match, may I pass on my tip for the perfect cucumber sandwich. Simply mix a pinch of curry powder with butter before spreading on bread, add thinly sliced cucumber….... Heaven! I’m also indebted to a discerning friend for introducing me to the practice of adding a slice of cucumber to vodka & tonic, rather than lemon or lime……. delicious... try it!