A JUG OF WINE A LOAF OF WHAT?
Being a city girl, I’m spoiled with the staggering amount of supermarkets and specialty stores around me living on Long Island. I have no fewer than eight supermarkets within a five mile radius of my house in addition to numerous delis, bakeries, fresh fruit and fish markets plus countless establishments that focus on Italian products.
While the local grocery store near the Red House is adequate, it’s also a tad strange. Here’s why. While prices for certain staples like milk, bread and eggs are roughly a buck or two less than on Long Island, vegetables and meat seem much higher. In fairness, the last time I shopped there they were offering a special on corn (25 cents an ear) and even managed a handwritten sign saying it was from a local farm, but that was not the norm since overall I found the fresh vegetable selection meager and expensive.
I hit the deli first. Deli downstate means usually Boars Head or decent store brand cold cuts with lots of prepared salads, pickles, cheeses and smoked fish. Upstate I counted at least six different brands of cold cuts nearly all of them focusing on turkey or ham. One entire shelf of the deli counter contained a section featuring things called “loaf.” There was Dutch Loaf, Pepper Loaf, Pickle Loaf, Pimento Loaf, Pickle and Pimento Loaf, Olive Loaf, Polish Loaf and last but not least Italian Loaf.
Lynn used to tell me stories about how much he hated pimento loaf growing up because his Mom actually put pimento loaf sandwiches in his lunch box! While I can occasionally manage to eat a bologna sandwich (although I really prefer salami), I can truthfully say I’ve never had a pimento loaf sandwich nor do I ever want one. His tales of trying to eat a pimento loaf sandwich (basically a bologna-like product with pieces of pimento thrown in) on squishy white bread with mayo even made me a tad queasy.
What exactly were all these loafs made of? When I asked the deli guy what was in the “Dutch Loaf”, he said he didn’t know but could find out. He picked up the offending product and started to read the label but I stopped him from reciting the ingredients. I thought it best if I didn’t know what it contained.
From the deli counter I meandered over to the baking aisle where I found boxes of mason jars (I don’t see that downstate either) for people to do their own preserving. I know people who do this (only two actually) but haven’t quite gotten into the spirit of pickling or preserving vegetables or fruit.
From baking I went over to the meat counter and found the usual cuts of beef, chicken and what seemed like a very large selection of pork. There were pork cutlets, pork ribs (on and off the bone) and thick cut pork chops. Above the pork were small containers of store made ham salad. I wasn’t sure why they were there but they were. Moving over to the hot dog area, besides the frankfurters there were packages of deli ham, cubed ham and julienne strips of ham. From a company called “Land O’ Frost” there were packages of cubed ham, honey ham, honey smoked turkey breast and oven roasted turkey breast none of which looked particularly appealing.
I moved over to the frozen food section where I was greeted with a sign on one of the doors that was offering a “Father’s Day” special on frozen crab legs. Problem was it was nearly two months after Father’s Day and the boxes of crab legs were still sitting there – regardless of the discounted price.
Time to hit the dairy section. Ok, so they didn’t carry any of the trendy Greek yogurt people are currently eating. And OJ seemed a tad more expensive than I was used to. Milk however was cheaper as was heavy cream. There was no “gourmet” cheese selection – so our choices were limited to the usual blocks of cheddar and Monterey Jack. For some reason I also couldn’t find any mozzarella — fresh or processed. Maybe I was staring at the wrong case? Since I had trouble finding mozzarella I was sure there wouldn’t be a goat cheese or Brie in sight either.
I looked for butter. They had one brand of whipped butter and the same brand for stick butter. I also saw more margarine in a tub or stick form than I seen the 1970’s including a 45 ounce tub of something called “SPREAD” which touted on the front of its packaging that it contained 48% vegetable oil. I was afraid to see what the other 52% consisted of.
Like at home, however, I bought what was on sale. Pasta at 79 cents a bag was a great deal so I bought four bags. Plums were 99 cents a pound, ditto for watermelon. They also carried single packages of chicken – great for people living alone regardless of where you were in the state for $1.99 a pound. I bought two pieces for little over a buck each thinking I could make a curried chicken salad for lunch one day.
There was lots of steak and chopped meat and store-shaped hamburgers but no sliders (chicken or beef). I know you can make your own but that’s not the point. Thinking of those cute little mini burgers I see on Long Island that are all ready to go made me even crave one….for about two seconds. Then I realized there were no slider rolls to be had anyway.
All in all, the choices for processed food (pimento loaf and all its variations) outnumbered the availability of “fresh” food. Meals could be prepared after shopping at the local market, albeit simple ones. Bottom line? As long as I have a good bottle of wine to drink for dinner, the best meals usually are the ones that are the least complicated. And I’m not talking about peanut butter and jelly.
A jug of wine a loaf of …what?