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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.

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  • SLCB1023
    I was the same way only the opposite when I was in the Peace Corps. In my very own yard I had papaya, avocados, plantain, bananas, and mango just growing there for my taking. So that is where these things come from. LOL Thanks for sharing your story, I had a great laugh! emoticon
    3785 days ago
    Haha I love when u said the healthiest thing in your IGA is unglazed donuts! That's cool your able to try all sorts of new things. I went to Meijers the other day and they had samples of their weird fruit laid out sliced in half. So that you could see what it looked like inside. Like Uglee Fruit, looks weird on the the outside but inside really its a mix of a grape fruit and an orange. But on the outside it looks like the elephant man.
    3785 days ago
  • no profile photo JANC319
    I could spend hours in a marketplace-type grocery store!
    As I was reading this, I would stop, close my eyes for a minute and just imagine the view, the smells, the excitement.
    Where I live, we have Albertsons, WalMart and 2 small, family owned groceries. I try to shop mostly at one of the family owned stores as it is very clean, actually has a butcher on site, and of course, helps support our local economy, and Albetsons because they have the most wonderful attitude and are extremely helpful.

    I love fresh pineapple - did you?
    3785 days ago
    Morticia this is too funny. We lose sight of the fact that not all foods are availbale to all folks everywhere! I am so fortunate to be in Florida in a big city so all types of fruits veggies and cuisines are pretty readily availble to my family. We love to experiment with foods recipes and new cuisines. Good for you and your sense of adventure!
    3786 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    Good for you. I'm not one to experiment much with foods I don't know about, but will occasionally. I once tried the Mango's and BOY did I learn to love them quickly.

    I'm glad you do things like that.

    Have a great week!
    3786 days ago

    you have me laughing so hard at the way you told this story.. Loved it !!! Thank you- I needed that !!!!!!!!!!!

    The most fancy grocery store I went to was whole foods in DC area.. I drove that route and I would sneak in if I was waiting on a customer.. I was a driver for a huge printing company ....could totally relate... :0)
    3786 days ago
    Tooo funny! I just tried pomegranates this last year for the first time and fell in love with them!!! Now, I guess I need to try papayas. Star fruit? Oh my! You will have to let us know how that is? emoticon
    3786 days ago
    I love papaya... yours probably tasted like they do here in Canada (imported) ripened on a truck and not real sweet. However, when I visit South America and get them fresh they are amazing!
    3786 days ago
    Love it--especially the male approach to unfamiliar fruit!

    i was caught like a deer in the headlights when a place called On The Vine opened here, with everything from home-made bakery stuff to a sushi bar to meats and gourmet foods to all kinds of fresh produce. AND you can get lunch there if you want, because they always have free samples.

    Funny, those tropical fruits all taste like a cross between other somethings AND are never as sweet as you think they should be. I wonder if we pump our Western fruits full of sugar steroids or something, in addition to food dye. We seem to do that to everything we eat.

    3786 days ago
  • LLTS01
    I know what you are talking about. When my aunt visits from overseas, she complains that I rush her through our Wegman's. So I plan an entire afternoon where I can explain every item in the produce section. She loves going there more than seeing the sights in Washington.
    3786 days ago
    If you ever do find a talking papaya, please tell me that you'll blog all about it?!

    I will admit that I am spoiled. I live in a metropolitan area AND we have a strong farming community AND we have a network of terrific cooperatives. Food adventures are everywhere, just waiting to be discovered.

    Your store manager sounds like a terrific person. You never know, she may be living vicariously through you!
    3786 days ago
    emoticon This was so great! THanks for sharing. I am still smiling!

    Ann emoticon
    3786 days ago
    I laughed several times while reading this blog. It reminds me of when I moved from Indiana to Florida and what a culture shock I got. I've never had a star fruit before but I love mangoes, kiwi, papaya and fresh pineapple. They are all in abundance here in Ft Lauderdale. Now what I love is going to Publix and then Whole Foods and seeing the difference between the two. Thanks so much for an entertaining blog:-) Hope you are having a fabulous week!

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    3786 days ago
    Morticia, I love this blog...you have me LOL!! and spitting out my tea (again!!) I had to look up online how to cook butternut squash...and now it's my favorite. I've always been curious about star fruit...The next time I see it, I will buy it and think of you...I'm sure I can find something online to tell me how to eat it!

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    3786 days ago
  • SUNNY332
    I relate as I too have spent an hour in the produce section. I love to go to the
    stores in the city but love picking my own produce out of my Missouri garden.

    Thanks for a great read!
    3786 days ago
    I want to be first on the list when you publish your novel.....you keep me captive, interested and you make it enjoyable.......I love reading your blogs...guess I will settle for that now.......lol.

    3786 days ago
    I just loved this blog I felt like I was taking this adventure for the first time..and you reminddr me of something I hadn't thought about in years..I use to eat those milk bones biscuits..at my aunts she had 2 little dogs and she caught me eating them...she tried to embarrass me by serving my breakfast with them on a place with sugar ..I shook the sugar off and ate them she was appalled at me. I told her I like them plain...the closest I've come to is those thick
    whole wheat pretzels. A great laugh out loud..oh and I love mangoes. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3786 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5927538
    Lol..Too funny. I wish i was that adventourous with food. Thats another part of my problem, not going out of my comfort zone with new food. One more goal to conquer!!
    3786 days ago
    Funny.. I've never bought jicama, but I've eaten it. Life is an adventure. I'll have to go through produce and see if there's anything we haven't had. Dh isn't willing to try things. He doesn't like my mini peppers or much of the other vegs for that matter. That's ok. He can eat what he wants.
    3786 days ago
    LIked your shopping post.

    I, too, live in a very rural area, one grocery store in town, the next closest is 28 miles. We have a limited selection of fresh fruits and veggies, but every now and then a new selection appears. However, we do have a wonderful selection of beef and the owner makes his own sausage, salami, jerky, and bratwurst. Yummy!!! It can be worked into the eating plan with a little juggling.

    Nearest WalMart is 120 miles, so don't get there very often.

    I was once in an oriental grocery store in St. Paul and was really fascinated by what all there was in there, from china dishes to exotic sea food. I really would like to get back to one to shop for some spices that are hard to find. I like to experiment with oriental style of cooking.

    3786 days ago
    What a funny blog! That's the way I felt when we finally got our Super Walmart. It was so big it was overwhelming. I do Jicama and I recently discovered mangos and now I love them. There are wonderful things about living in a remote place where you can feed the deers but big cities are wonderful too.(and no snakes) hehehe... emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3787 days ago
    "The Well-Shod Contessa" - LOLOL!!! What a hilarious blog!! What did the star fruit taste like? Have you seen an exotic fruit called Buddha's hand? It looks like a cross between a lemon and an octopus - long "fingers," and the skin is like a lemon's!

    I remember when kiwis were considered exotic! Dating myself :) - Susan
    3787 days ago
  • JUNEBUG1944
    You are a hoot! Thanks for the laughs! ROFLMBO!
    3787 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4720056
    I grew up in a tiny, rural town in Mississippi and,last year, at the age of 41, married a first generation American Chinese man. He, too, spent many years in MS but also lived for many of his teenage years in Hawaii, where his family ran a restaurant. You cannot imagine the changes my diet has seen in the past couple of years. While our grocery store options are seriously limited here in MS, we take a few trips a year to visit his brother in Dallas. While there, we shop at a few Asian grocery stores. THAT, my friend, is nothing short of amazing for me. They have Chinese and Korean and other Asian vegetables among the vegetables I am familiar with. The seafood is truly fascinating (not so much appetizing for me though...) It is interesting to see the different foods, as well as the different methods of food preservation. To be honest, my husband cooks a lot of American food, and much of the Chinese food he cooks has probably been Americanized to a point. We pretty much have a short list when we go and we stick to that list. He usually has to drag me out, though, because I want to look at everything. If you haven't been to an Asian market, you need to go when you get a chance. I'd also like to go to other ethnic markets, but, once again, location is a problem...
    3787 days ago
    Girl, you kill me! LOL! I have small town background, too. Life almost stopped the day the movie theater burned down when I was a kid!

    Unfortunately, I'm not adventurous when it comes to eating. Never have been. I think it's an unconscious reason for not traveling outside the US.

    My mom used to come at me with things and tell me to try it. I would back away from her! ha ha When I would ask her what it was, her response was, "Just try it." That's how I had my first taste of turnips. Didn't care for them. Thought they tasted like cabbage; not a favorite of mine unless it's as coleslaw.

    At our house you had to eat at least a spoonful of whatever was on the table whether you liked it or not. There was no ifs, ands or buts. You sat at the table until you finished it. Sometimes it would be stone cold and awful, but you still choked it down. The older I got, the less often she would make me do it. Now, if she offers something I know I won't eat, I let her know not to count me for dinner! ha She always said I was her pickiest eater!

    She's one who likes old cookbooks. One time she made mock pecan pie using pinto beans! She had them cooking on the stove when she was prepping for a holiday meal. Then they were gone. It wasn't until my dad was eating his pie he asked where the beans had gone....he'd found one! It's a rare day I taste anything my mom offers without asking to see the recipe first!

    3787 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/16/2010 11:32:48 PM
    Oh, thank you. I am laughing out loud!!! Cooking wine by the Hustler mag...kitchen looking like a jungle and of course...ripping skin off the papaya!! Thanks for a great humorous end to my day :) Ha Ha Ha!!!
    3787 days ago
    LOL, no other idea about papaya either!
    3787 days ago
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