I went grocery shopping American style yesterday. Well, maybe in light of the recent recession, I shopped the way Americans used to shop.
Normally I am more European. I visit the grocery near daily, buy fresh and organic, and typically plan meals out for only a few days at a time. I don’t like to stuff the cupboards, fridge and freezer because food has a tendency to go to waste that way or one ends up with a lot of highly processed food that isn’t very good for the body.
Yesterday however I decided that with Dad’s health being so precarious right now and our Thanksgiving coming up in a week, not to mention ElderD’s 26th birthday coming up, I needed to lay in supplies. I don’t want Rob to have to scramble to feed himself and BabyD if I should need to fly to the States on short notice, and I want us to have a nice family Thanksgiving this year. Last year we were a bit makeshift at Rob’s mom’s place in Regina. She was getting ready to move to B.C., and we were helping out with preparations, so Thanksgiving dinner was Mexican in nature. Do they have their own Thanksgiving? I can’t imagine that they would want to celebrate the arrival of white people in the New World, but one never knows. Food oriented holidays (or ones saturated in alcohol) are hard for cultures to resist adopting sometimes.
I don’t normally shop on the weekends. I prefer the weekdays when the aisles are clear and the checkout swift. The people watching is different though on Saturdays however, so it makes up for the inconvenience.
I was surprised by the number of mothers out with their young adult sons. Boys who are clearly too old to be trailing after mommy at the grocery, and yet obviously too inept to do much else. I wondered at the dynamics that must have occurred to create such creatures. Divorce? Widowhood? Transient common-law relationships? I do believe that at some point we control our own destiny, but bad parental decisions early in the game can really screw the pooch for some children.
One young man trailed after his mom with his eyes glued to his cell and both thumbs beating out messages like a native on drums in an old western film. His mother had her phone stuck up against her ear, and they moved from aisle to aisle like a blind man following his guide dog.
I ran across them several times and only say them interact when the son would direct his mother to some junk food purchase or other. Judging from their relative sizes, I would say that stocking up on unhealthy eats is a weekly ritual.
The other young fellow I noticed mainly because of his interesting attire. White high-water jeans, a black t-shirt with a wildlife scene on it – wolves under a starry sky – and black hightops that reminded me of the orthopedic shoes I had to wear as a pre-schooler. They were untied and he was pigeon-toed whenever he stood still. His hair was greasy and hung in his face. He didn’t appear mentally deficient, but that isn’t always physically apparent – not like Sarah Palin’s scarily limp baby at the end of the debates Thursday night. I shuddered when I saw that poor child, wide awake and less active than a sack of potatoes as he was passed like a bag of flour from one person to another.
I didn’t run across any openly hostile couples or families. I can’t even count the number of snarling husbands and wives that I have observed out for a stressful grocery run. The other day I encountered a mom, dad and – again over-grown son – out strolling at the Safeway. The son was teasing his mother to the point of combat, and she would swat at him and chase him as though he were a toddler. Their private moments must be fun times.
Normally I don’t have much of a chance to people watch. I know what we need and where everything is. Thanksgiving menu items though were not staples and included things like – meat – so I was wandering a bit more than usual. I circled the meat freezer several times trying to locate the turkey. And then there was the quest to find ingredients for pumpkin pie that didn’t contain any of the preservatives that give me a sore throat and numb lips.
I have been baking a lot recently. I can’t eat anything too fatty because I haven’t a gallbladder anymore and of course most pre-made goodies are taboo due to the additive thing. It is frustrating, but it forces me to bake, and fresh food gives a person more options and control. It also makes BabyD and Rob happy. Poor babies, they are nearly as chained to the limited menu of allowable foods as I am merely by association.
Shopping off the usual menu also means that I have to read labels. This adds to the time spent too. Nothing is very clear on labels, and I have had to do a lot of sleuthing to decipher the industry code. In addition to avoiding my own triggers, I try to purchase things that have as few “ingredients” as possible. So for cranberries, for instance, I simply got a bag of fresh ones and will make the sauce myself. It’s terribly simple and better for us anyway.
Today however, I am taking the day off from food and its preparation. Some sort of stomach bug has me bedridden (which I loathe), and so I will attempt to catch up on my writing – I have a book review due and a piece promised at my new contributor gig at 50 Something Moms (yes, I know I am not 50 but I am old). I also have my dad’s obituary to write and email to him. He was fine with my writing it but insisted on seeing it for editing purposes.
Now to rest a bit and fortify with a cup of fresh green tea before hitting the keyboards.
Happy Sunday to all!