“Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?” – Author Unknown
Whenever I go grocery shopping, it takes me an abnormally long time. No, it’s not because I’m buying so much food that I need multiple carts, although anyone who immediately jumped to that conclusion is a jackass. For whatever reason, I’m often struck with deep philosophical thoughts while grocery shopping. I really can’t explain why. Maybe it’s because the sheer variety of food at the grocery store puts my brain into introspective overdrive. Maybe it’s because food, as one of the essentials of life, causes our brains to return to a more primal mode… which would explain the actions of the lady who tried to take the last remaining premade pie crust out of my cart on the day before last Thanksgiving.Or maybe I’m just a strange guy who thinks too much about cereal… who knows. The point is, for me a trip to the grocery store is a introspective cleansing experience, and so, I of course feel obligated to share a few of my thoughts that resulted from last night’s trip.
1) When I was but a wee lad, my mother had a rule that stipulated we could select any cereal, so long as sugar was not the first or second ingredient on the box. This is a rule that I still apply to my cereal selection today, but over the years I’ve noticed that the selection of non sugar based cereals seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Why is it that there are 18 different variations on Pebbles but no variations on Crispix, which is my current weapon of choice. Sure, I can add bananas or raspberries to my Crispix to create a delightfully fruity breakfast experience, but why am I forced to work with a base ingredient that has not changed since 1983? Did the good people at Kellogg’s come up with the recipe for Crispix and exclaim,”Heavens to Betsy! We’ve created the perfect cereal!” Don’t get me wrong, I love Crispix, but a man needs some variety in his life. It is possible to add variation to a healthy cereal without sinking the Titanic. Life has it’s Cinnamon… Cheerios has it’s Honey Nut. Maybe if Crispix were to branch out just a little, I could one day pour something new into my bowl and exclaim, “Damn, that is one tasty additive.”
2) When it’s in season, the grocery store I consider my own personal Walden Pond always has an excellent selection of watermelon. As a single bachelor living alone, I’m always hesitant to buy an entire watermelon, because a man who tries to eat an entire watermelon himself before it goes bad is just asking for fruit flies or frequent trips to the restroom. However, one thing I’ve never understood is why a full size watermelon costs $6, while a container of pre-cut watermelon chunks costs $10. There is no magic to the watermelon in those containers. As a watermelon connoisseur, I guarantee that it’s the same stuff that comes from the uncut variety. Furthermore, the containers might contain half the fruit of a full size watermelon, and that’s being extremely generous. Therefore, to get the same amount of watermelon in the cut variety, I would have to pay $20 instead of the $6 for the do it yourself model. What exactly am I paying the extra $14 for? Did the grocery store staff have to undergo special watermelon cutting classes that must not be subsidized by the consumer? Were they sent to Japan to study under Hamato Yoshi, so that they might learn the way of the watermelon and the blade? Why does my grocery store want to punish me for living alone? I feel like I should start a watermelon sharing program, so that I can enjoy watermelon without facing financial ruin, and without having half of it go to waste. That or I guess I can just buy raspberries instead. I do love a good raspberry.
3) So help me God, I love the Kraft Parmesan Cheese. Whenever I make spaghetti, which is pretty often, I always finish it off with a liberal application of cheese. Anyone who has had my spaghetti has never complained, so I will forever trust the good people of Kraft. However, as much as I love the stuff in the green can, I really wish they would lie to me a bit more. At my grocery store, the Kraft Parmesan is not even remotely close to the refrigerated section. It’s stacked on a shelf, right on top of the Velveeta.
Tangent: There is a lot I could say about Velveeta, but I won’t today. We’ll leave that for another story. One word teaser: chili.
I understand that the Kraft Parmesan doesn’t have to be refrigerated before opening it, but couldn’t we at least pretend? All the other cheese is refrigerated… why can’t this be refrigerated too? There’s plenty of room, and even if there isn’t, let’s get rid of some of the American singles slices. The point is, I don’t want to know about the preservatives in the Kraft Parmesan that remove the necessity for refrigeration. Ever since the state of Texas declared me to be an adult, it’s been a never ending education process of why you shouldn’t eat this, or that. From what I can gather, at this point no one should ever eat anything ever, except celery. No matter what diet / food plan / guru you consult with, celery seems to be on everyone’s nice list. I guarantee you that Kraft Parmesan is not on the nice list, but I don’t care. I’ve stopped eating baked goods, except when Kristen bakes brownies laced with the 4 c’s (caramel, coconut, crack cocaine) and brings them into the office. I’ve stopped buying pop tarts, and instead buy organic granola bars that suck. I’ve even switched from 2% milk to 1% milk, and just pretend that what I’m drinking actually tastes like milk instead of murky water. However, I will not give up my Kraft Parmesan cheese when I make spaghetti. If I die tomorrow, I want to be buried with my wooden spoon in one hand, my Kraft Parmesan in the other, and a Mario Brothers style mustache drawn on my face. All I ask is that we just pretend Kraft Parmesan has to be refrigerated, so that I can live under the illusion that the magic in the green can will not lead me to an untimely demise.
So, as you can see, grocery shopping takes me a long time. But really, that’s ok. I think we spend too much time in this day and age rushing from one place to another, without taking the time to stop and smell the hot french bread that you can take home for 99 cents a loaf, or 1/10 of the price of a container of sliced watermelon. For me, grocery shopping is my happy, peaceful zen place. Here’s hoping that all of you have your own happy place , and that you can spend as much time as possible there.
P.S. – One day I’ll tell you all a story about pudding. Don’t worry, it has a happy ending.