Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Scanning for Wieners

The village of Kensington, Maryland is the greatest place to be on Labor Day Weekend - it's the last hurrah at the neighborhood pool, an amazing parade, and the Pitchfork Block Party. (It has that title because three streets that host the party form the shape of a pitchfork.) The shindig starts on Sunday afternoon with music rocking, children running, and grown-ups grilling. Some adults mingle into the wee hours of the morning which was when my neighbors ravenously opened a package of Oscar Meyers that sent one dog flying into another person's back yard. The recipient is a master gardener and would be perplexed if she pulled up a wienie weed of that sort. Someone had to go on a hunt for the hot dog.

Looking around for a snaaaausage is a daunting task in the dark, but I've also found it overwhelming in the fluorescent lights of the super market. The first time I entered a grocery store after moving from New York City, it took me over two hours to find what we needed. In NYC, I had a service deliver the goods. There were not many products because the only thing I knew how to make was reservations. Ok, bad joke but true. I could scramble eggs. In college, I lived off of stewed tomatoes and macaroni. Ask my college roommate and dear friend Jennie Plentie. Not anymore. We moved here and somehow I magically became a cooker. My kitchen is sizzlin'. Maybe it was because someone had to feed my kids. Maybe it was because I needed a creative outlet.

Ingredients are necessary for my "hot cookin' that's going on tonight, and the temperature is rising just right", as G Love and Special Sauce sings. (The music video is at I know, I could order my groceries to be delivered even in suburbia but I want to experience the food, to touch it and smell it. I love how I FEEL when I walk through Whole Foods. I feel a sense of the primal when I go on a quest to Balducci for miso paste and other obscure ingredients. But lo and behold, there is always the utilitarian markets trips that remain daunting.

Even though it's swell to forage for food, the grocery store process is stuck in the 1950's! It is inefficient. You put products in a cart. Take products out of cart. Cashier picks up each product, scans it. Each product is put in bag. Bags of products go back in cart. Bags are put in trunk. Products are emptied into kitchen. It is enough to make you put on a poofy petticoat and do yourself in. However, the grocery goddesses heard my prayers and someone decided to help me work my skirt in the food aisles.

The grocery store revolution has begun and I may seem hopelessly suburban* but I am loving it. I'm now my own checkout chick. The hand-held scanner at Giant allows me to ring up my products as a I go along. I put them in the bag I want. When it is time to pay, the cashier takes my scanner and POOF, I'm outa there. I've saved four steps in the store! Even putting away the food is much quicker because I've bagged things according to where they go. And, I know this sounds silly, it is satisfying, maybe even borderline fun. Ever play cashier when you were a child? You can re-live the moment. My daughter is living it as a reality. She doesn't even want to watch Dora in the kid grocery carts anymore. She is busy being my helper, zapping UPC codes on Oscar Meyer wieners. Hot diggity dog!

* "hopelessly suburban" was coined by my friend Brooksie Brooks
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  1. I love it! So true, so true! I just wish you could take one of the bag boys home to unload and put away your groceries while you collapse. Of course, these are the same people that can't manage to bag frozen items with frozen, and non-perishables with like, so no telling what type of storage would be considered appropriate by them. Once, I told a bag boy, please keep the stuff that needs to be kept cold together, so I can leave the non-perishables in the car till tomorrow. The next day, I found what had been a fresh, juicy and warm, just baked whole chicken in the trunk of my car, bagged with Q-tips and light bulbs and stored with the non-perishables. See, I had said "cold," and this item was "hot." Well, now it was just rotting in the Houston heat, along with my ambitious system for making unloading groceries easier.

  2. So did you find your lost wiener?

  3. The wiener is still MIA. What are we going to do if neighbor read this blog?

  4. Jenny Plenty weighing in here -- will never forget the cans of stewed tomatoes, green beans and the strawberry filled mini-wheats. I think those are all healthy foods for single gals in their early 20s. I do believe I lived off popcorn and Coco-puffs then. Love you bunches!!! JP