Whole Foods, Kensington
The Barkers Building
63 - 97 Kensington High Street
0207 368 4500
by H.P. Seuss
What the fuck is that SMELL?
Actually, smell doesn't capture it. It has the pervasiveness of a fug - but a fug is too low somehow, too damp. It has the dryness of an aroma - but then an aroma would imply that it's pleasant. It's not something you'd sniff for kicks.
Yeast is the predominant note, with sympathetic chords of wicker baskets, brioche and American things like popcorn and hire cars. There's a definite bouquet of straw, too; and with it the tang of manure and the surprisingly soft note of rotting flesh. The structure is redolent of emulsion paint. If it were a colour, it would be beige: the colour of Anya Hindmarsh's famous bags, of hemp rope for hanging, of barren earth, of David Cameron's soul.
It is the smell of Whole Foods, pumped through the basement food-hall, the ground floor "market" and the first floor "canteen", getting in your hair, your clothes, your credit card bills. It doesn't so much mask other smells as affix itself to them, flavouring them. It is the smell of our future as green consumers. And it's so revolting that the pornographic array of cheese, patisserie and pre-prepared salads for sale in Whole Foods will never be as appetising as they would be in any natural environment. It just doesn't feel organic in the way I understand it.
And frankly neither do any of the 26 varieties of killer tomatoes on sale, particularly the insipid orb that is part of my tepid, refectory-style "English Breakfast" on the first floor. The rest of this dry, fatty, Americanised assembly - grey-green scrambled eggs, semi-raw sausage, bacon jerky, white toast ("no brown available"! In the temple of choice!) - requires five separate squirts of ketchup to render it edible. It is pathetic.
In fact the whole enterprise - the insolently amiable staff, the idiotic queuing system, the instore art department you pass on the stairs - is so fake, cloying, hectoring and misguided, it makes your soul want to vomit. And I still can't get that fucking smell out of my nostrils.