I Hail from the Exotic, Far Off Land of Minnesota
Don’t ya know.
You know how I’ve always kind of sort of really wanted to live in a foreign country? Well sometimes it feels like I already am living in a foreign country.
I moved to “The South” (I think they get mad if you don’t capitalize it) in late 2003, when the man who would eventually become my husband scooped me up in his pickup truck and carted me and my very limited number of material possessions down to Valdosta, Georgia where, over the years, I would become accustomed to such things as people saying, “I’m fixin‘ to go to the store” and drinking “soda” instead of “pop” and iced tea that already has the sugar added.
But there are certain things about living here that really irritate the crap out of me. Although, I’ll admit that it probably has more to do with living far outside of any major metropolitan area than actually living in The South.
Yesterday afternoon I went to the grocery store. It’s a chain called “Food Lion” (yeah, because that makes sense), and from what I understand without doing some quick Google research, it’s a fairly large chain. And while it’s nice because it’s only 5 minutes from my house (when most other commodities are 35-45 minutes away), it can sometimes leave something to be desired if you’re looking for… less “southern” ingredients.
I will say they have a pretty decent selection of Hispanic food, considering the population around here, but if I’m looking for Asian, Indian, or ingredients from another type of culture, I’d best look elsewhere.
Case in point:
I headed to the store today with 3 new recipes in mind. I left missing at least one ingredient from each recipe, not because Food Lion was out, but because Food Lion – or at least this particular Food Lion – doesn’t stock them.
And these weren’t crazy things, people. I wanted things like orzo, which is just a rice-shaped pasta and not all that uncommon. I wanted a beef brisket, which is just a certain (albeit slightly more expensive) cut of beef. And I wanted some damn Panko breadcrumbs, which are Japanese breadcrumbs, “fluffier” than the stuff you normally buy, but again, I thought not all that uncommon.
I mean… It’s not like I was looking for tripe, which they HAD:
Cow stomach, anyone?
Or beef tongue, which they also HAD:
At the value price of $2.08 for the WHOLE tongue, I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong.
And who needs Panko breadcrumbs when instead, you can get crumbs made specifically for chicken, pork, fish, general seafood, plain crumbs, seasoned crumbs, Italian crumbs, beer batter, medium-hot, spicy, two varieties of hushpuppy batter, and of course, any variety of Shake ‘n Bake you can imagine.
But NO. F*cking. Panko.
And yes. I realize I’m incredibly fortunate to even have the option of choosing between tripe and tongue (two things that, I’ll admit, I’d probably be in line to try at a renowned restaurant – just not in my own novice kitchen) when there are starving children in the world, but I can’t help it.
The heart wants what it wants.
And my heart wants Panko.
So. I can get what I need by driving a bit further to my favorite Asian market or another large chain grocery store. (Which is not Piggly Wiggly, by the way. Did you know those are real? We actually have one. It’s the only grocery store I’ve ever had to go through a metal detector to get inside. Never. Again.)
So it’s not like I’m living somewhere devoid of all things different. But I have to work a little harder to get them, and something in me longs for the ability to step outside my front door and walk down the street to any variety of specialty shop or restaurant and carry everything home in a couple of reusable bags and call me crazy, but I think I would just be happier overall if the ‘burbs weren’t so… suburban.
How easy is it for you to get your groceries? I know Bec’s chain grocery store has about 4 parking spots, is “missing” one wall, and she can find a million different dried beans, but a tiny block of cheddar cheese is like $8. Many of my former co-workers make the effort to buy from local farmers markets and grow their own vegetables and herbs.
So how about you? Can you walk to your local grocery store? Do you have to visit 12 different stores before you can find all the ingredients you need?
Am I just a big spoiled brat who should stick her beef tongue where the sun don’t shine?
Hey! I might be a little Southern, after all.