Potato Scallops and…Thursday Nights and Saturday Mornings

When I was 15 I thought I needed a job.  Part-time work was available for teens in most retail stores for Thursday night/Saturday morning shifts.  (This was back in the day when weekend trading was only permitted on Saturdays from 8am until 12md.

I went to my local shopping mall and walked from store to store asking if they needed a part-time sales assistant.  I received about 30 rejections and was beginning to think I was very unemployable when a cross and grumpy pharmacist said he needed a new ‘casual’ for the chemist (drug store) he was managing and could I start next week.

Twice Cooked Potato Scallops

The chemist was enormous and sold everything from drugs and chocolates to shoes and cameras.  It had a photo station where customers dropped off their rolls of film and came back the next week to collect the prints.  It also did ear piercing.  I don’t know why but somehow I ended up piercing people’s ears with no training and no clue what I was doing.  I do think I had the good sense to wash my hands before adding to my resume, ‘Ear Piercer’ but maybe not.  Unsuspecting teenagers would wander in and ask if someone could pierce their ears and I would be delegated the job.  I would mark the lobe (the fashion to pierce anything else hadn’t yet been invented), with a purple pen, then shake up an aerosol can containing some kind of freezing agent, spray the person’s ear, then put the studs into a little gun, position it on the ear and fire away.  I never had any complaints but I guess the unsuspecting customers didn’t know what to expect.

I enjoyed the job as I got along with the other casuals but none of us got on with the pharmacist.  He was always stressed and looking cross and he would stand behind his counter elevated on a wooden platform and he used his heightened position to look down and spy on us.  He made sure we were always in motion.  We were never allowed to stand still.

He used to smoke.  At one end of his platform was a doorway through to a pokey, windowless storeroom and he would disappear into this room and light up a cigarette.  Unable to resist a couple of minutes of spying, he would stand half-in and half-out of the doorway taking a long drag on his cigarette while spying, then turn his head and blow the smoke into the storeroom.

One day the pharmacy was really busy and people were queued up at his counter all waiting for their prescriptions.  He was standing there oblivious to the developing crowd because he was extolling his wisdom on pharmacology to some poor individual because it used to make him feel very important.

I was walking past his platform when a customer asked me if I could check to see if her prescription was ready.  I said, ‘Oh sure’.  So I walked around to the other side of the counter and stood on the elevated platform and looked along the counter for her prescription.  And I found it.  I picked it up in my hands and was about to tell the customer I would just have it checked by the pharmacist to make sure it was right to go and then I would meet her at the register.  But from out of nowhere I felt a whack on my hands and the prescription crashed to the floor.  The pharmacist had physically hit me.  Everyone standing around witnessed it, heard it and became silent.  He screamed at me that I had no right to touch anything on his counter and that nothing was to leave the counter until it had been checked by him and to get back down to the cash registers.

Everyone was staring at me and watching to see what I would do and I was in such shock I had no idea.  With the growing audience and dead silence the pharmacist realised he had created a scene and so he picked up the drugs, handed them back to me and told me to take the drugs and the customer to the register.

My hands and wrists were bright red from where he had hit me.  All the sales girls gathered around me and asked incredulously, ‘Did he hit you?’  And I said, ‘Yes’.  I avoided him for the rest of my shift.

As I was leaving he gave me my pay but he didn’t say anything about what he had done.  I took it and left.  When I was on the train heading home I opened up the clear plastic zip lock bag that contained the cash and found he had paid me double.   The next week he asked me to see him in his storeroom.  I went out to the smelly, airless room and he asked, ‘You didn’t tell anyone about the little extra I gave you, did you?’

Quite frankly, whether or not I had told anyone about ‘the little extra’ was none of his business.

The pharmacy was close to a fish and chip shop.  I used to buy potato scallops to eat on the train on my way home from work.  They were good but not as good as home made!

Twice Cooked Potato Scallops

Scrumptious!

Serves:  8

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  A great inexpensive treat.

  • 750g large old potatoes washed, peeled and sliced into 3mm (1/8 inch) slices
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water (approx)
  • vegetable for deep frying
  • extra flour

Dry potato slices and dust in extra flour.  In a large bowl mix flour, salt and pepper.  Add water and mix until a smooth batter is formed.  Heat oil over high heat.  When a drop of batter sizzles in the oil, dip potato slices in batter and add a few at a time to the oil.  Cook until lightly browned then remove and drain on paper towel.  Continue until all scallops have been cooked.  Return scallops to the oil and cook until golden.  Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt.

Serve with lemon wedges or tomato sauce.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found on The Australian Women’s Weekly website.

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Comments

  1. Goodness, what a first job experience. I went through that stage of many, many resumes dropped off and only the occasional phone call in response – and had the experience of making coffee without any skill as a result (probably better than ear piercing without training!) – but being hit never featured, thankfully.

    Love the look of these scallops :)

  2. Wow! How such experiences shape us when we are young. Sorry this happened, but I am glad it happened in front of witnesses who shamed him into a payoff. The potatoes look yummy – never would have thought of the lemon wedges.

  3. I was a Chemist chick when I was at school too! And my first boss was a grumpy old pharmacist who’d argue with the customers and disappear out to the staff toilet with a newspaper tucked under his arm. But he wouldn’t have ever hit us. That’s not on. Love a good scallop though.

  4. i havent seen a potato scallop before, but yours look good. love to try!

    Latest: You’re Hot and Cold!

  5. I would have reported him.

  6. The man would most certainly be charged with assault if he did this today. But I know that decades ago people got away with things like this. I’m curious. How long did you stay at this job? I cannot imagine ever returning after an incident like this.

    Did he, by any chance, die of lung cancer?

  7. … and I thought you were going to say 1) and he fired you or 2) you quit. Nonetheless, you skill of weaving recipes into your tales of life are impressive.

  8. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Those were the days eh! Wouldn’t be able to get away with that now! Those potato cakes look great – have never made them at home, will have to give them a go.

  9. I’m quite certain I wouldn’t have had the courage to go back to that shop. I might not have even made it through the rest of the shift.

    The potatoes look divine, an indulgent treat.

  10. Ooh, twice cooked. Sound delicious.

  11. Omg! That’s horrible how could he ever hit you! That’s so rude and ridiculous! I don’t think I would have been able to go back and work for him if I was abused like that… But on the other hand I find it quite amusing that stores weren’t allowed to open on weekends back in those days but now it’s kinda unheard of and shops ate staying open for longer ;)

  12. I was about that age too when I decided I needed a job and I went from store to store at our local mall only to be rejected. It was the last store I went into, a rather dowdy woman’s clothing store. The owner was there and somehow it came up that I was the daughter of Hungarian’s; she asked if I wanted to work the Hungarian booth at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) I jumped, my very first job!!! It was downtown and my Dad didn’t trust the transit so he drove me and picked me up each day, even though I was dying to ride the transit on my own. The pay was crap and the hours similarly bad. Fortunately the CNE lasts only two weeks at the end of the summer just before school. I bought a Hungarian embroidered blouse and blew all my hard earned money! Sadly there was no food to be associated with this job, but your potato scallops look lovely.
    That chemist would surely have been reported and charged today.

  13. What an experience for the first job in your life! Potato scallops look delicious!

  14. He’s lucky you didn’t report him. How horrid! But the potatoes look yummy ;)

  15. This is exactly the type of recipe I was looking for to make for my friends who will be visiting this weekend. So, thanks for the recipe and I’m anxious to make it!

  16. The potatoes sound amazing, your ex-boss not so much! What a horrible man!!!

  17. Oh Charlie, what a horrible experience! Love the sound of these spuds though.
    :-) Mandy

  18. What an experience! I give you credit, Charlie, for returning to that job. Not many your age at the time would have done that. I’m not so sure I would have and I, too, got my first job, at a pet store, at 14 years of age. Double-frying potatoes makes them extra crispy. “Scrumptious!” is oh, so, right!

  19. What an awful man!!!!!!!!!! I am not very good at cooking fish…it frightens me! But I love to eat it!

  20. I can’t believe he hit you!… Or that you were allowed to pierce ears without training!
    The potato scallops look delicious :)

  21. Back then he would have got away with it even if you had reported it! He obviously felt like a fool (which he was, and a bully) I’d like to know if he treated you any differently after that though? I once reported someone for sexual harassment (refusing to let me leave a locked room until they kissed me) and all that happened was I was told not to go in a room with them again and that it would be ‘mentioned’ to the guy in question.
    After such unpleasant experiences I believe your potato scallop comfort food are perfect! Yummo!

  22. Are these the same as potato fritters? If so I never knew they were called scallops also.
    I am double minded whether the pharmacist did the right thing in the end – he didn’t apologies but paid extra.

  23. What a terrible job experience! Though the ear piercing part reminds me of when I was finally allowed to get mine pierced at age 16, in a mall, by someone with either not experience or no ability to get the holes evenly spaced side to side. Still have one lower than the other to this day!

  24. They certainly are scrumptious.. and they look so inviting to eat. I wish I had a PC screen that would allow me to reach n and grab one for myself :)

  25. A chilhood favourite. My teenage work experience involved avoiding my middle aged boss attempting to corner me and touch my boobs. Which I managed to do for a couple of weeks before giving up and walking out.

  26. What an awful man! to hit someone on the job is unfathomable :( And how is this for another coincidence re timing of job posts, yesterday I ate a potato scallop for the first time in over 10 years! :P

  27. The potatoes look fabulous – double fried almost makes for a fabulous fried potato. Sounds like it’s great as a snack or as a side dish.

  28. Oh Charlie you have made my day. There used to be a restaurant up from my family’s holiday home that made the best potato scallops. I drool just thinking of them but I’ve never thought to make them at home. Yours look just like the ones we used to have.

    What a horrible job. You poor thing. I hope you didn’t stay there long.

  29. Charlie, noooooo! You did not just give me a recipe for potato scallops! I refuse to look at it. I’m still trying to lose the weight I put on in Hong Kong 3 months ago, and potato scallops are a serious weakness…

    • hotlyspiced says:

      They are a serious weakness of mine too but I haven’t had them in years because the ones you can buy today are so artificial and horrible. The ones I used to buy as a teenager were made with real potato slices and real batter and were amazing. I hate to tell you this but everyone in my family said these were the best potato scallops they have ever eaten! And they’re not that hard to make! And they’re very inexpensive! But you don’t see them on any diets! xx

  30. Potato scallops! I’ve never hear of such a thing. They look and sound delicious! Another great reason I love following your blog. :)

    I cannot imagine WHAT I would do if I had a daughter and she came home and told me her boss had hit her…holy cow. I think I would go crazy. I’m curious, did you tell your parents?

  31. Speechless.. in this day and age he would have been slapped!! With a lawsuit! Now, me? I’d like a plate of those Potato Scallops slapped down in front of me;) Excellent story today!

  32. My how times have changed. People used to get away with a lot…… still it made us tough!. Love a potato scallop I do

  33. That’s insane!! He was clearly unwell. Poor you… what a terrible start to the working world. The potatoes also look insane… but in a really really good way!

  34. Yummy looking potatoes but just think, if the hand-smacking had happened recently, you would be the new owner of that chemist! I would like to think that the grumpy old man changed his ways after this incident, but probably not.

  35. uhh… your memories are trigging some of mine which resemble in some ways. started jobbing too at that age, my boss was italian, crazy people!

    Your potato scallops look nice, I d love eat them while walking through town. thanks for sharing

  36. What a horrible person – it’s a shame that there are people like that in this world. Twice-cooked when it’s already delicious once-cooked?! I must try these… heaven!

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