Big Girl Fancy Grub
Saturday, January 16, 2010
My son and I are food experimenters. We love to try new foods we haven't been exposed to. It's pretty easy as far as we are concerned as we live in the boonies and do not have access to a lot of stuff that cosmopolitan places do. Southern Illinois is very rural and 2 of the largest cities are less than 20,000 except for the metro east St. Louis area. Our town has a grungy IGA which they have recently cleaned up, a mom and pop grocery, Kroger, Aldis, and SuperWalmart.
My friends who moved away from our Podunk way of life write to me about all of their exciting adventures in the big city. They have Turkish this and Thai that and Indian this and Mongolian that and I immediately long to have the same.
I can remember the first time I went into a real grocery store in the metro east St. Louis area. It was Dierbergs and my head almost spun all the way around. It was the first time I had seen a grocery store that attempted to appeal to your visual sense. I looked at the produce which was arranged perfectly and I'm sure I looked like a deer in the headlights. I spent probably an hour in just the produce section fondling the colorful veggies. You mean there is more to the store???!!!! No way!!! In contrast our veggies were piled in huge messes.
I finally made it out of the produce section and into the fresh prepared foods and deli section. The was a dude there making sushi. I had never seen anything like that before and was amazed. There were glass cases holding tons of fresh salads and a salad bar. Tons of cheeses from all over the world. And my all time favorite.........an olive bar. I was wondering how I could live there.
There were 2 aisles of health foods. Our grocery stores idea of health food is unglazed donuts.
I was in love with the bulk food aisle. The little containers full of tiny morsels such as couscous and quinoa. The only bulk food in our grocery store is dog food. Ugh, I'm not into food experimenting quite that much though my cousin grew up stealing and eating everyone's Milk Bone Dog Biscuits. Thank goodness, it was one bad habit that didn't rub off on me.
Dierberg's has all of these free samples so you really have no need to buy lunch. And some of the free samples are CANDY!! One time the candy was some exotic little mint thingies I had never seen before and they were to die for. I confessed to the clerk that we wished we could have seconds and he said, "Eat as much as you want. We don't care!! Eat em!!" (Bury you face in it, hog. O.D on sprinkles.) LOL.
And there were aisles and aisles of booze. As you know I don't drink but I'm attracted to the bottles. Especial the fancy ones and the blue ones. Our groceries stores practically keep the cooking wine locked down in the Adults only section with the Hustler Magazines. LOL.
Dierberg's has Fresh flowers. A gigantic Bakery. They also sell other things like lawn chairs.
After what seemed like a week of walking through the aisles I made it to the end of the store. I loved it and go back every time I am over there.
Due to my exposure to the "real world" I started to ask at Kroger if they carried some of the things I had seen and the box boys would stare blankly and declare, "I'll get the manager. " It got to the point where I would just look at a clerk and they would say, "I'll get the manager." I often wondered about the conversation regarding me. "It's that kinky weirdo again." Followed by the manager's big sigh. But the manager was always nice and always got the stuff for me and I felt really important like I was The Well-Shod Contessa.
The last couple of years our stores have gotten more modern and we started to see exciting things show up here starting with different kinds of squash and fancy lettuces and fresh pineapples. It progressed to other things and now we have daikon radishes and jicimas and star fruit.
Which brings me to my one of my latest purchases. My son said he was interested in trying some new foods so I bought a papaya, mango, kiwis, star fruits, fresh pineapple. My husband saw the food on the counter and asked if I had gotten lost in a jungle or something. LOL.
Friday we decided to eat the papaya but realized we didn't know what to do with it. My husband would have just used the typical male approach - rips its' clothes (skin) off and get inside it but I wasn't sure what was the correct way to deal with it or what I would find inside. We had to look it up online. My son is better at searching than me so he found a site and said there were different kinds. Sigh. He asked me if it was a Caribbean papaya and I said. "I don't know. It's doesn't talk." We finally figured out it was and learned what to do with it. I was surprised at the guts. Rather interesting. We fixed it and ate it. I was kind of like a cross between a banana and a cantaloupe. It was creamy. I thought it would be sweeter. My husband and I liked it better than my son did. LOL.