GROCERY SHOPPING- IS THIS WHAT DANTE HAD IN MIND?

Since I started cooking professionally, I decided to start grocery shopping more frequently. It has been rewarding in that I get a more inspired, ever changing, evolving menu with fresh ingredients. On the downside it has caused a good deal of frustration in that, I really started to notice just how crazy and clueless some people are…Let’s stroll around this asylum we call the supermarket, and see what the inmates are up to…Oops!, Cleanup on isle four!


First stop Produce, and who do we see here…”The Thumper”


“What are you doing?” I ask… “Checking to see if it’s ripe” the lady answers, thumping her index finger on, and looking seriously at a watermelon…”How will you know if it’s good or not?”… *Blank stare*…. “Because of the sound!” … “What sound?”… “A thumping sound”….”Don’t you think it’s making a thumping sound because you’re… thumping on it?” annoyed, she turns away certain she has found the “right” one…Thumping a watermelon is not a bad way to tell if a watermelon is ripe or not, but I can tell you unless you have thumped several hundred or even thousands of watermelons, this is not the best way to tell. Look for an off white or creamy yellow spot where the melon sat on the ground…if it is white white or green white, chances are it wasn’t ready to pick yet. Melons will continue to mature after they are picked, but they will never get any sweeter….so letting it sit for several days will not make it “more ready” to eat. Farmers will use a hand refractometer to determine ripeness by measuring soluble sugars, which are about 10% towards the center of the melon…I don’t have one of those, but I do have eyes….and so do you kind people…. let’s use them.


“The Thousand Yard Stare Guy”… This guy just doesn’t have any idea. I’m not sure if he’s a bachelor or just got the short straw and the wife got the “Go home and take a hot bath” card…. or maybe the poor schlub is cooking for a date. What’s he looking for, staring at the bin of tomatoes with that far away look…. as if he’s thinking, “Why didn’t I bring our daughter to dance class…hell, it’s not like I have to dance, what was I getting again?!” Do something buddy, anything! Pick one up, smell it….does it smell like a tomato? Does it have nice color? Does it feel somewhat firm and yet at the same time yield a little to the touch? If you answered yes to these three questions, chances are it’s fine. Go ahead and get it. Or if like me and it’s January in New Hampshire, maybe consider something else, a nice rutabaga or squash perhaps… Because in case you haven’t noticed, it’s cold outside and tomatoes probably aren’t growing so the ones on the shelf are little greenhouse grenades that you could drive a nail with, and have about as much flavor as either the grenade, or the nail! Anyway….I’m moving on…I can’t watch this poor guy…


“The Milk Lady” “Ma’am… I think you forgot to touch this carton!” She’s been here for 5 minutes examining every expiration date on every single carton of skim milk there is determined to find the magic one that will expire the 20th of July 2019! There’s no hope for this one, just try to stay out of her way and hope you don’t need to grab skim milk in under an hour….Or you can do like I do. “You like milk ma’am?” “Oh yes, I drink it for the calcium and vitamin D!”….”Ma’am, did you know that without the fat in your skim milk, your body won’t absorb the vitamin D, or the calcium?”….then walk away… always good for a head scratch.


“Meat People”/ “Meat Herders”… These folks (It’s usually a couple) just plain drive me nuts. I don’t think they even know what they’re looking for, or at! They go from one cut to another picking up each and every pack, looking at weight, price, color, something, nothing…Hell I don’t know! They go from a skirt steak, a tri tip, shoulder roast, rib eye, eye round, bottom round …. then back into the cooler the packages go. I don’t know how to help these folks. I just try to move around them as quickly as I can.


In the Deli or fish area I will briefly touch on “Buttinski”, this is the person who lives for the days when they don’t use the number system to assist customers, this person just walks up to the counter without a care in the world and at the next sign of a clerk starts with their order… then after ordering their one or two items, they give you the wry smile and say, I only had one or two items and shrug… I like to follow this with, too bad one of the items wasn’t a jug of hemlock…smile…Then shrug.


Going through the center isles we run across “The Label Hound ” Reading cans as though they were on the New York Times Best seller list! I got two words for you people….”They’re Cans!” Not much good can come out of them, unless you’re just looking for some staple pantry items like tomatoes or some canned beans. If you’re buying vegetables in them (sorry Mom) I can only assume you’re a member of some militia looking for doomsday provisions.


Dammit, I turned the corner and smiling away at her electric griddle with a boxed/frozen/prepacked something or other is “Sample Lady”! Look, I’ll be the first one to take a sample of the Mortadella I’m buying at the deli counter, but the last thing I’m eating is the Mystery Meat Helper Surprise that lady is dishing out…I’m not against junk food… on the contrary, there are times I embrace it… but it’s on my own accord, not because the CEO of said company wants to put human advertisement in my store to peddle their crap on me. It’s worse than that herd of salespeople falling on you at a department store with the same rehearsed “stepford wives” like greeting…”welcome to blah blah…have a super duper day!” So no ma’am none for me thanks!


Oh look, here comes  “The Toll Keeper”, this is the person who parks their carriage on one side of the aisle, and stands on the other looking at every single package of ramen noodles….serenely observing the thirty or so different varieties and brands of each, contemplating the wonderment that will emerge from a meal that will cost approximately fifteen cents. Hey, I’ve got nothing against ramen noodles, but come on folks…they are what they are. We all know the flavors, so there’s no mystery here. The noodles are all the same, so pick up a package, any package, if you have some chicken stock at home, let that be the broth and then add some fun little extras. Mushrooms, green onion, carrot sticks, shredded cabbage, Et Voila! You  got yourself a meal, forget the little salt lick they provide you in each pack, it’s not worth the tinfoil it’s packed in. Finally, the toll keeper has noticed you and has decided you may pass through, with the only toll being on your soul, knowing they really are interested in the shrimp flavor… but which brand?


While I come to a standstill in front of the steel cut oats, and turn to walk across and grab the tin that I already know I want, look who it is, “Little Miss Rudebody”! Thank goodness, I was afraid I would miss her today, this is the person that juts in front of you without acknowledging your existence and then spending 2-3 minutes of quality time getting to know in intimate detail, every package of instant oatmeal known to man. Sometimes I get the added bonus of getting a glance from this person with an expression of… “What are you waiting for”? or my favorite “Can’t you see I’m busy”?


On my way to check out, I get passed by “The Speed Merchant”. This guy is getting his shopping done, and he’s getting it done fast… I got no problem with this guy…he’s got a purpose, he’s not holding you up, he’s the most impatient S.O.B. on the planet! It’s hard to not like this guy during your shopping excursion except….when he’s behind you at the checkout. This is the one who shoots to the front of the store running down the line of check out counters hoping to find the one check out lady who is sans a line, when he does, everybody is happy. When he doesn’t….everybody is miserable…and guess who he just got behind, yup, my lucky day. I’m not worried though, I think I may actually enjoy the sighs, the clicking of his tongue against the roof of his mouth, the muddled comments, the nudging of the cart against my backside…..why Pav, you’re turning over a new leaf?! You’re finally becoming one with the God of patience?! Nope…. it’s because I’m not in a hurry, (The Cat took the car to the Harley shop to pick up the handlebars he had chromed out, so he won’t be back for a few) and I’m standing behind the two people that can make him more miserable than he can make me….”Miss Coupon” and “Mrs Third Party Out of State Check Lady!”


If you can think of somebody I’ve missed…..let me know, and happy shopping!

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11 thoughts on “GROCERY SHOPPING- IS THIS WHAT DANTE HAD IN MIND?

  1. Thanks dhorst! Glad you liked it…I once got a free trip out of the store and directly to the car, courtesy of my father…which thereafter made sitting a challenge, but trips to the store a lot easier from that point on.

  2. I can't believe I missed this one. Holy cow, ya made my day. I've been totally crackin' up with this one. I've had people bitch me out when I politely say, "Excuse me, I need to get by." because I'm interrupting their conversation. Hello! I'm shopping for food and I NEED TO COOK! Please move your chat to the side of the aisle rather than the whole aisle. Heh. Kids and the grocery store. Heh. My oldest son had a little bit of a tantrum one time because he wanted a toy, (notice they put toys near the baby food), he was three at the time. Well, we not only left without buying anything, we also put everything in the cart back, before leaving the store. Lesson learned? Oh, yeah.

  3. Thanks @onepercent99! Ah yes, the nose miners! I love when the run around DNA tagging all the fruit and produce before hitting the salad bar! When I was a kid and went shopping with my father he would say, "stay with me, if you're not here when I'm done…I'm leaving!" I thought there was something just batshit crazy enough about him, that he might have! Had I treated it like a game as kids now do and ran from him….that would have been a trip to the car, and game over. Dad 1 Pav 0

  4. Awesome piece Brother.We must shop at the same store.You forgot the little kid,walking down the meat case,sticking his little grubby fingers through each and every package of meat,while his fat assed parents totally ignore him!

  5. @Lauri–YES! And then they park their 3 or 4 shopping carts so that they block the flow of traffic in the parking lot while they SLOWLY pack their groceries in the Econoline van, and are in no particular hurry to move out of anyone's way. Then they give you the hairy eyeball if you have the audacity to try and drive around them.I posted this on facebook a while back, but it's worth repeating: I was in the baking supplies aisle one day and noticed two girls agonizing over what to buy. Girl 1: "So, what's the difference between sugar and powdered sugar?" Girl 2: "Well, it's, like, sugar, but like, with the consistency of, like, flour." Girl 1: "Is it sweet?"

  6. I have to tell you, I saw my favorite couple a couple of weeks ago. When I was in Dallas, I would time my grocery shopping for Cowboys games, no one out. Here it's the Ravens. Seriously, they're freaks about it. So, I'm in the store and everyone is wearing their purple, apparently I got there too soon and the game hasn't started yet, everyone is buying game-time snacks and this couple needs chips and dip. She's agonizing over what to get when he says "Hurry up Hon, I'm losing my buzz". I burst out laughing, I couldn't help it, and told him he just made my day.

  7. Lauri, I'm sure we have those here as well on what I am guessing would be Sunday, family fun day….at which point I am either sleeping, catching up on couch time, staring into the fridge, doing lazy assed crockpot day, scratching myself or at times, all of the above….Thank you for sharing dear! (note to self, stay out of grocery store on Sunday)

  8. Pav, down here we have all those as well as Large Catholic Family, too. Mom, dad, a couple of aunts, 3 or 4 kids of various ages and an elderly abuela who must ok every item after a major discussion. Takes up an entire aisle and usually on Sunday or evenings when the store is fullest.

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