Thursday, September 10, 2009

"The *fresh foods* store, conductor of hostility?" A woman's boring account of her trip to the grocery store.

I had to stop at Shop n Save on Wednesday to pick up some miscellaneous items my mom needed.

I stood at the entrance and pulled out my list so that I may study it and map out my path. (Only, mappers usually know the geographical details before they execute their mapping.) (I assume.) Granted, I only had 7 items on my list but those 7 items would be the cause of a wild scavenger hunt that would nearly bring me to tears!

It all started when I couldn't find the tomatillos. What's that, you ask. It is a small green tomato that is grown in a husk.


Its yummy uses are for salsa and... throwing at people? I'm not sure what else since I'm not a cook. I took my cart and rolled here, over there, next to the sauerkraut and nuthin'!

I stopped and asked one of the veggie organizer dudes where they were and he was all 'The what?' me 'TOE-MAH-TEE-YOS' my latino friend looked at me as if to say 'why does this chick need tomatillos' so I said to him, in Spanish, 'Mi mami quiere hacer salsa' (my mommy wants to make salsa) and then he said 'OH! Tomatillos!' Lost in translation? I don't think so since I speak PERFECT Spanish (that is the one thing I can brag about)!

He pointed me in the right direction so I took my wobbly SELF cart and made my way to the other side of the produce section. As I was sorting through them, I was hearing my mom's voice in my head "do you even know how to pick out tomatillos correctly?" I answered, out loud, 'how hard can it be?' and the man next to me gave me a dirty look. Like I was asking him a personal question. However, the fact that he was all defensive answers it all.

My next item was a loaf of bread. But not just any loaf of bread since my mom had written 'package has the word *butter* on the top'. Ummmm okay?


I called my mom and asked her for other distinguishing features to this buttery bread. Clue #2 yellow bag. Okay narrowed that down to 10 so I closed my eyes and eeny meeny mineey moed it.

Next up, cumin (Q-MEN or COO-MIN).


That should be easy, right? Went to the Aisle of Spice and looked high and low for cumin with these specifications "don't get the one in the bottle because it's more expensive. Look for a plastic bag with a white sticker that says 'comino de Mexico' ". While looking at each individual bag, because I could not find the cOminO, some lady asks me "can you move your cart?" and I did because I thought she needed to get a closer look at the oregano but all she did was park her cart where mine was and leave to go on her own hunt. I may or may not have moved her cart to another aisle.

After putting a BOTTLE of cumin in my cart, I moved on to look for the next thing on my list. Cream Soda. No, that wasn't on my list but for 79 cents I was taking it home. Chicken legs. I went to the back of the store and stood over the amputated chicken limbs trying to decide which was better. Smaller legs but a larger quantity or larger legs, smaller quantity? What to do? Whaaaat to do? I hadn't realized someone was clearing their throat and tapping their foot behind me.

"Oh, I'm sorry! Please go ahead." to a European lady giving me the stink eye. She sighed as if I had just taken the last schnitzel and proceeded to rustle through the packages pretty much doing the same thing I was minus the apparent disregard for chicken bruising. And then she started mumbling under her breath.

So I went in there and mimicked her because I thought maybe this was proper market etiquette. Only she had an advantage over me because she was taller and had gorilla-like arms.

She stopped once to huff at me again and I smiled at her and took over more space because clearly we were both looking for that ONE perfect package that had the right amount of legs that were the perfect size. . . EUREKA! I found it! I held it up triumphantly and gave her a sideways-half-turned-lopsided smug look and she tried looking at it over my shoulder but I walked away with my prize without giving her that pleasure.

::sigh:: I'm tired. Shopping for groceries isn't as fun as they make it out to be in movies.

Okay. Next is "80% Ground Beef". Crap! I had walked away from the dead animal section because I wanted to get away from the lady! Now I had to go back. I wobbled my way back and tried to guess as to what "80%" meant. Oh! Here is an 80% lean ground chuck. I put chuck in my cart and went "Poor chuck" out loud again and realized my latino friend from the veggies was following me at a distance.

I gave him a look as if to ask "Que onda vato?" but I don't think he understood because he scurried away.

Next on my list, milk. Ahhhh finally! Something I could pick out without having to tear my eyelashes out!

A tiny woman stood between me and the 2% and I found myself sighing and tapping my foot like my European lady friend with the chicken legs. It didn't work though! The tiny woman stood her ground! Okay, plan B. "Excuse me!" as I lean around her in all my extra poundage glory. She didn't seem to mind my invasion of her space. Weird.

Last item on my list, Jalapeños. For the love of... ! I remembered seeing the Jalapenos next to the tomatillos! All the way at the entrance of the store. Oh well. I walked back to the produce section and waved at my veggie organizing latino friend who was staring at me but he looked away. My list said she needed one pound of Jalapeños. I didn't see a single weigh station in the area. I wondered if my mom would get mad if I eyeballed the pound.

"Mom, I can't find anything to weigh the Jalapeños, does it have to be ONE pound?"

"Are you still at the store?"

"Yep. Does it have to be a pou--"

"It's almost 6:30! How long have you been there?"

"I got here a little past five I think. I couldn't find a few things-anyway! Does it have to be a poun--"

"Andy hasn't come down to dinner and I told him his plate was ready. Now it's cold."

"Mom, I need you to answer my question because I am going insane over here!"

"Calm down. What?"

"Jalapeños, pound yes or no"


"::sigh:: Okay, bye."

I look for my veggie organizer dude who doesn't want to make eye contact with me.

"Donde esta la vascula?" (Spanish for 'Where in the freakin hell is the damned produce scale because I need to get out of this hell hole??')(well, sorta)

He points to the scale behind me. Of course.

I weighed the damned Jalapeños and made my way to the register. Along the way, the hunger within took over and added 4 candy bars, a cheese danish, something called "Crust" and some Italian seasoning (in the hopes that I would one day make bruschetta again).

I arrived at my house tired, sweaty, and hungry... with melted chocolate on my butt. Just like in the 90s.

The life lesson in this story?

One, I don't want to grow up. Two, I should stop talking to myself out loud. Three, people are mean. Four, wobbly carts make your hands hurt. Five, moms have no sympathy and will often say things like "2 of the tomatillos you picked out were rotten."


  1. You did very well. The only fresh things I ever buy are to make salad with.

    Next time you'll be able to do it in under an hour.

  2. There are 2 things I hate in the world. Ironing and food shopping. And I really hate ironing. But I'd rather iron than go food shopping.

  3. Bee, I think you must be the only person on earth who can make a simple trip to the grocery store a side-splitting laugh fest. You're so hilarious! I love it.

  4. I talk to myself like you do. More often containing swearing and expressions like "whaaat?" when I don't understand what's the difference between the really cheap salmon and the really expensive salmon (apart from the obvious edibleness), but I think that's a part of our charm.

  5. I talk to myself all the time, inwardly of course, but there are times I guess I am having a really good conversation because I will say something out loud and people look at me. I just tell them "I'm an engineer" or "I'm a mathematician" and suddenly they understand. :-)

  6. Bee: I'll give you some insight here.

    The old guy who gave you a dirty look? Yeah. He heard your question. Older guys don't like to be reminded about how "hard" something can be.

    So your innocent question about "How hard can it be?" when standing near to him automatically set him into defensive mode!

    Other than that, you showed grand and mad shopping skills!

    Tomatillos suck. Next time, have the funny produce guy pick 'em out for you while you bat your eyelashes at him and tell him just how much of a savior he is for you!

    Best of luck for your next trip!

  7. heh, you sound like every guy who has ever gone shopping for something his woman said she had to have but failed to give an accurate description of.
    welcome to the club brother

  8. Mothers know how to say just the right thing, don't they? :)

  9. I get most of my exercise wandering lost around grocery stores.

    what did she make with the tomatillos and jalepenos?

  10. Oh yeah, my MIL was here for a visit and I did not make her cry

    I believe that's the fourth time in a row :)

  11. You should totally be a professional shopper. Hey, why is my nose growing?

  12. did you take back the rotten tomatillos?
    If not you should!

  13. I have my three year old son do the "excuse me"... they can't get mad at his little smile. Works every time.

  14. That sounds like my shopping list! I can actually say "tomatillo" but I've forgotten how to buy then!

    Very funny post. Dead animal section. Love it. Did they have any dead raccoons or squirrels?

  15. I love shopping of all kinds except grocery shopping in a store I am not familiar with. It can get really stressful. I hope the salsa was delicious.


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