Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 23: Food Fright

I have lived in Oz so long I have forgotten what it is like to shop in America. Yesterday, LK and I went to the grocery store to get some things for the week we are spending with her mother Peg. Not just any grocery store, though. This was Wegman's - a monstrously huge place that was not only full of food, but full of staff who kept trying to get you to eat the food.

We had taken about three steps inside when this cheery guy insisted we should try a new fruit made by crossing something or other with an apricot. A little further in, two people at the fancy cheese counter were competing with one another, hawking free samples. I tried some Vermont Cabot cheddar, but I already knew I would like it.

"Got any washed rind cheese?" I asked. Sure enough, they had a bourbon-flavored washed rind that was seriously good. And the samples weren't polite little crumbs. They were big, full-bite offerings.

While she was wrapping that up for me, a woman at another counter a few feet away yelled over to me. "While you're waiting for her to finish, come on over and try some of these with fresh crusty bread."

LK had insisted we eat lunch before attacking the grocery store, and that usually makes sense. But with Wegman's I think you could just walk in and pretty much have lunch for free as you stroll around the store. I did loiter around the cases of beer and coughed as if my throat was dry, but no one offered to open a cold one for me, so I guess there are limits to what you can sample.

Despite their generosity, I had trouble coping with the store. It was massively crowded, and it was so huge I had to use the bread samples, just to leave a trail of crumbs so I could find my way out.

The store has seriously way too much on offer. We looked up and down three aisles in vain for something or other when I realized where we were. "LK, we're in the organic food section," I told her. What would have been a 4-foot counter in Sydney was a mini-store here. Even more, once we realized it was the organic food section, it explained why we couldn't find anything we wanted.

The seafood section was bigger than the fish shop we use at home. The bakery section was bigger than the whole bakery at home. And the meat section would put any of the butchers we use at home into the minor leagues.

Halfway through I got over my mini-panic attack and was able to cope with the store so long as I avoided the sections full of shoppers, most of whom seemed to be buying enough food to feed the local high school for the month.

We didn't do too badly ourselves. LK picked up ribs, pork loins, and a roasting chicken slightly larger than a toy poodle. Couple that with Sandy's cooking last night and we will eat well this week. I think Linda is actually looking forward to cooking a few meals again having been staying in hotels or friends' houses for the past three weeks.

I know what that feeling is like. Yesterday I got to make the bed. It felt good.

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