Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Take the day off. Whole Foods.

I don't have to work today, so after a morning spent lounging about, reading and writing, I head off to Whole Foods. Whole Paycheck, they like to call it, with good reason. Somehow I always spend more than I expected to. Usually when I go grocery shopping I make a list, otherwise I come home with a million things I don't need but have somehow forgotten the three ingredients I meant to buy for dinner that night. Today I just wander through the aisles aimlessly and arrive home forty-five minutes later with three extremely heavy bags, enough food to feed myself and possibly the occasional guest for at least a week, if not two.

The first thing I encounter as I enter the store is a giant pyramid of heirloom tomatoes, orange-and-red, or rust-and-green. The vast pile is adorned with fragrant bunches of basil, and as I walk around I see that they have enticingly arranged two buckets of ice, filled with tubs of fresh mozzarella. All the makings of a caprese salad. (Those sneaky bastards). I scoop up a few tomatoes and some mozzarella for dinner, and keep going, making my way through the produce section. Everywhere are brightly colored fruits and vegetables, perfect and unblemished and stacked in neat rows. It is late morning; yuppies on their lunch break rush around in suits holding latté cups. Affluent mothers swish by with their toddlers. It's quieter and less child-infested than weekend mornings, no four-year-olds running into my knees with their child-size carts. I get some figs, whose dark purple skins will reveal pink, seeded flesh, a few zucchini the color of dark jade, a handful of mushrooms, some eggplant. Yellow onions in their papery skins, a sack of gold-fleshed potatoes. I'm not sure what I'll do with all this but something will come to me.

Just past the produce section is the seafood counter, fresh fish gleaming against a snowy bed of crushed ice. Should I have crab cakes for dinner, or save that for another time? I don't have a frying pan yet, and I have my mind on other things, so I keep going. Next is the meat counter, with its rows of sausages, bright red, richly marbled steaks. I buy a thick, huge New York steak, because it is on sale, and some short ribs, which I will braise with oxtails. (A story for another time). I'm not in the mood for chicken, so I walk past the poultry counter and head towards the deli counter on the other side of the store. I buy pâté, smooth and peppery and topped with a dark amber aspic, some prosciutto (domestic, because Whole Foods won't carry the imported stuff anymore, something about Italian pigs not being antibiotic-free. Alas). In the bakery I snag a loaf of bread from the Macrina bakery, my favorite bread. Usually they run out, because I do my grocery shopping late at night. Run back for milk, juice, Guinness. (I'll tell you about the Guinness later).

Who knows what adventures await?

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