This afternoon at work, a discussion arose around online grocery shopping. One enthusiastic supporter loved the idea of lounging around the house until the doorbell rang. At which point, he’ throw open the door and see his groceries bagged and lined up on the porch.
I tried to listen objectively, which is nearly impossible for me.
First, I wouldn’t have the patience to scroll through dozens of web pages to find just what I needed. More importantly, I would miss the "thrill of the hunt."
Rich always joins me for grocery shopping. I was once stopped by a woman while shopping; she wondered how I talked my "husband" into helping. The fact is that Rich relishes grocery shopping. When we walk into the store, I hand him a stack of coupons. He eagerly grabs a hand basket. His step quickens.
I usually push a cart through the produce section, slowly contemplating what we’re going to eat for the rest of the week. A deep burgundy eggplant is an excuse to make Moussaka. Japanese eggplants and bell peppers find their way into my cart for green curry. I wonder which lettuce to purchase and mentally note that I need a bag of spinach to add color and maybe a red cabbage. So pretty.
By the time I’ve negotiated down one aisle of the produce sections, Rich has already filled his hand basket and is wanting to unload his finds. Seeing that he’s returned with a bag of poblano peppers, I note that I’ll have to buy some ground turkey meat, tomatillos and onions to stuff them. A bag of avocados means he intends to make guacamole. In which case, I know he’ll soon be heading for the tortilla chip aisle or perhaps glance at the meat case for fajitas meat.
Meanwhile, I head down the second aisle of the produce section in search of tomatoes, string beans, carrots, red bell peppers (if the peppers are big and the price not too high), and perhaps, some squash. Sometimes, I have to backtrack if a dish comes to mind for which I don’t have the ingredients, like fresh okra for gumbo (only if green bell peppers are super cheap) or parsnip for chicken.
Heading out of the produce section after picking up some potatoes and onions (red and white), Rich might be waiting to tell me about some fantastic deal he spotted like buy a package of store-brand hotdogs and get a free loaf of white bread, a six-pack of grape soda, a can of peas, and a bottle of yellow pickle relish. "Yes, great deal," I stammer, "but let’s pass."
He spins around, his basket over his arm, in search of more deals as I mosey past the fish case. Tilapia, I wonder. Seasoned catfish filets look good and are cheap I decide. "I’ll take three large filets," I tell the fishmonger.
I whiz by the meat section, feeling guilt for eating animals. Nevertheless, I usually get ground turkey and pork chops. The turkey goes into sauces, ends up in casseroles or gets stuffed into poblano peppers. Lately, Rich has been snatching up packages of pepper bacon for Saturday morning breakfasts.
It’s now time to wander up and down the aisles and randomly pluck things off the shelves… Campbell’s lentil soup with cactus is a favorite. One can never have too much pasta, especially when it comes in interesting shapes. A bottle of borscht would be a nice treat along with a couple packages of instant Thai soup. Wow, look at all those interesting bottles and cans of enchilada sauce. Need to get some coconut milk for curry and maybe a can of water chestnuts. Capers and anchovies for Puttanesca. And of course, Velveeta (a severe addiction) for grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese when life seems unfair.
Meanwhile, Rich is racing up-and-down the aisles trying to match coupons with products. When his basket gets full, he unloads it into my carts. He’s the hunter. I’m the gatherer.
We usually converge in the pet food aisles. He grabs bird seed. I choose cans of cat food based on my belief system. No beef, lamb or veal. Nothing in gravy. Nothing that could result in "reverse digestion."
The only food purchases that Rich and I actually debate about are in the frozen food section. There are cartons of ice cream to choose and bags of frozen vegetables — peas, string beans, artichokes, Chinese stir-fry vegetables, and other interesting combinations that microwave so nicely. We skip the prepared food and TV dinners.
As we head for the checkout stand, I grab some flowers for a bouquet. Rich considers buying another tube of toothpaste.
As we unload the basket, we talk about what we’re going to cook. And smile as we see what each other has added to the basket. My Velveeta, fresh Mozzarella and buttermilk. Rich’s bacon, package of guacamole mix and cantaloupe. I can’t imagine having this much enjoyment, shopping online.