Expat adventures

  17.09.2020 Magazine

I will start this article with an assertion: if you have children aged eight and above, you are probably familiar with the Selecta machine.

The infamous Selecta machine
When our boys were young, one of their favourite ways to spend their pocket money was in the Selecta machine at the train station near our house. They would trot down the road with their handful of coins and return with a chocolate bar, minibox of ice tea or packet of chewy sweets and a broad grin plastered over their faces.

It did not matter that they could have bought those same items for less in the local shop. They were not interested in maximising their return on investment. No. They were far more excited to demonstrate their buying power by using the Selecta machine.

“The shops aren’t always open, Mum,” my eldest son would explain, “but the Selecta machine is”. My husband and I would shrug our shoulders and smile. They would grow out of it eventually.

Fast forward to a Sunday morning a couple of years ago. Some old friends contacted us out of the blue to say they would be passing through Gstaad and wondered if we would have time to catch up?

“Yes,” we said, “that would be wonderful”. I immediately offered to cook dinner. We could of course have gone out to eat, but our friends have young children and we knew everyone would be more relaxed at home. As soon as I hung up the phone I wondered what to feed them. Our fridge bore more than a passing resemblance to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Unsurprising, given that we did our weekly shop on Mondays. Had I been too hasty with my offer?

“What am I going to cook?”, I asked. It was a rhetorical question and I did not expect any flashes of inspiration from my brood.

But our youngest son piped up, “what about the Selecta machine?”

My husband gave him a look. The ‘why-haven’t-you-done-your-homework’ look. “I think they’ll want more to eat than chocolate bars and crisps,” he said.

“No,” our son continued. “The meat Selecta machine. You know. It’s got sausages and steaks and stuff.”

I am the first to admit I did not believe him, but he was insistent and I was out of options. So we jumped in the car and drove to Buure Metzg, the butcher. There we discovered THE RE-GIOMAT. Outwardly it looked like any other vending machine, with numbered sections containing items for sale. But it was refrigerated. And instead of crisps and chocolate it did indeed sell meat. Twenty different varieties. Including exactly what I needed.

It gets better.

Since that day we have also spotted a refrigerated vending machine outside the Molkerei (dairy) shop in Gstaad. It offers a wide selection of products including cheeses, yoghurt, cream and milk. The machine is even clever enough to handle eggs because the products do not get dumped into the bay at the bottom. Instead, a shelf rises up to collect your choice before transporting it carefully to the collection bay.

It is very swish. And, yes, we have used this vending machine too. On more than one occasion.

Our sons think it is very funny. We spent years counselling them against using the Selecta machine and now they rib us for doing what amounts to the same thing.

They arere right, of course, but I do not mind. There is no doubt the REGIOMAT really did save our bacon on the day of our friends’ visit. Because, to quote the sage words of our then eight-year-old son: “The shops aren’t always open, Mum, but the Selecta machine is”.



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