Thankful for the Grocery Store

He tasted better than he looked.
He tasted better than he looked.

I host Thanksgiving every year and this year was no different. I love having my family come over. We watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade together and sister Kiki and I prepare most of the dinner. Except, I have to make the turkey because he usually  needs to get in the oven before anyone arrives. It shouldn’t surprise you that touching an uncooked turkey sceeves me out. I hate sticking my hand inside that bird and pulling out those disgusting things wrapped in paper. I mean, come on, the turkey wasn’t born with paper in it’s orifice. Why wrap up its giblets and stick them back just so I have to pull it out? And all that red blood. Yuk. It occurred to me while preparing this year’s turkey, I should be thankful for grocery stores. Imagine if we had to hunt the turkey, defeather it, behead it, clean it and then cook it? If all that stuff was left up to me no one would have eaten. Ever. And what about ovens? I bet the pilgrims didn’t pull open a door and stick the turkey in a preheated oven from Whirlpool. Did they build a fire in the back of their log cabin and stick the bird on a skewer? Thank God for grocery stores. That’s all I’m saying.

My aunt and uncle went to Italy in the 1980s to visit the village where our family is from. It’s insulting if you don’t let my family cook for you. No big surprise there. My relatives, in their primitive village, didn’t have ovens in their homes in the 1980s. They cooked over a grate in the floor and they sat on the floor to do it. Can you imagine? I am thankful I was born in 19 – well, in 20th century America instead of any time in the past 100 years in southern Italy.

My Italian relatives didn’t have screens on their windows either. They didn’t care if the bugs came in or the cows. You could be sitting down to dinner, on the floor next to the grate I’m assuming, it probably doubled as the heating vent, and ole Bessy the cow would come sauntering in the door without a screen on it and she’d saddle right up to the cooking vent and drop in her seasoning of chewed up grass.

When my great-grandmother came to America in the 1930s to join her husband, bringing my teenage grandfather with her, she took all the screens off the windows of their home. Someone said to her, “if you take the screens down the flies will come in.” Her response: “If they come in, they have a way to get out.” How do you argue with that logic? After some time in America my great-grandmother begged her husband to return her to her village in Italy. Once she got home she decided she wanted to return to America. She must’ve missed the screens and the oven. Probably the grocery store too. Just saying.


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!


It’s that time of year again. The time to food shop for all the relatives coming to your house to eat. And you don’t even have to be Italian for this holiday which is lucky for you because Italians eat around every occasion. We even make up occasions so we can feed you. Just ask my mother.

I was in the grocery store the other day getting all stocked up on Prosciutto, cheese already cut into little cute cubes so I don’t have to do it, chocolate cake because what’s a holiday without chocolate, and of course the turkey, that no one will really eat because we all like the side dishes better, but the Coffee King looks good holding a carving knife so why stop a good thing?

I loaded up my shopping cart to resemble a volcano about to erupt and dragged the cart into the check out line. I’ll be honest here for a second. I always check to see who the cashier is. I’ve shopped at the same food store for three years now. I’m getting to know who works the registers and who packs a mean bag. In other words, if I don’t like the way you bag I don’t stand in your line. Got it?

So many registers were open and I was tired of pushing and shoving my massive load around so I only checked the first few registers I passed and then settled on an older woman with curly hair not much taller than the belt. I figured that could me in a few years so why not stop? Her name was Mary. Hey, like my mother’s and they were the same size. I wonder if Mary the cashier was Italian too? I should’ve asked. Well, hang on a second, if she was Italian she wasn’t from my group because Mary was a terrible bagger.

We know I’m slightly OCD and I like my things lined up neatly in a row, so I put my groceries on the belt grouped by category. Freezer stuff together, non-food items together, bread together. Follow me? Good. I do this because it makes putting the groceries away easier and it keeps the ice cream from turning to cold soup in July. Most cashiers understand this. Some even compliment  me on it which means they have the same disorder I do. Not our friend Mary.

Mary put the carrots with the crackers. What? Carrots go with the other fruits and vegetables. Didn’t she notice where on the belt they were? The carrots can’t stay cold next to a box of Wheat Thins. And she put the meat with the milk. Now I know my Jewish readers are cringing right about now. Meat should be in a separate bag in case it bleeds on the other groceries. No one wants to be bled on. Trust me. She put the box of garbage bags with the bread. Do I really have to explain this?

Typically, I rearrange the bags when people like Mary drop items into the plastic all whilly nilly, but I controlled myself. It’s Thanksgiving. Maybe she was having a bad day or maybe it was her first day on the job or maybe she hates her job and was taking it on my dinner rolls. Either way, it didn’t matter.

What matters is I’m able to load up my cart with all the things my family wants to eat like mushrooms shoved into the stuffing or mashed potatoes and gravy and buy it for them. What matters is the Coffee King gets to carve our turkey again. What matters are my Noodges. I pushed my cart through the parking lot and to my car hoping Mary has a nice Thanksgiving even if she can’t bag groceries.

And I’m wishing all of you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving too. Just beware of Mary.




Enter at Your Own Risk

I was at the food store Monday morning. Bright and early and without my kids. Do you shop on this day? I don’t typically go to the food store on Mondays so this was a new experience for me. I like to go bright and early on Saturday or Sunday. No one is in the store. There’s no jockeying for a place in the aisle, no guessing who’s cart is it anyway because someone is always abandoning their cart to find an item they forgot three aisles back. I never do that. Never. And frankly, I don’t like to bring my kids. Never have because when I do, I end up buying more junk than we need.Trolly Bays

Here’s what I saw this fine Monday morning: Moms with their babes. Everywhere. It was like all the moms of children five and under have a planned meeting to grocery shop at 9:00 am. One mom led her children up and down the aisles like momma duck leading her ducklings. The kids pushed the carts. Clever. We had moms with one in the carriage and one in the oven. Moms turning the grocery shopping into a math lesson. A couple of moms with those extra long carts that double as cars blocking the bakery section. Trying to get bagels over here. 

While checking out I heard, “Sweetie, we don’t give our money to the lottery machine.” the child replied, “But you give away your money to the grocery store.” Smart, I thought. Then the mother replied, “I don’t give away our money. I’m buying us food we need to eat.” She conveniently left out the part about needing to buy the three bottles of wine in the cart too. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying three bottles of wine on a Monday morning. The writer in me was just making an observation and of course writing a story.

What did I learn on this shopping expedition? Don’t go on Monday mornings. Too crowded and its like playing bumper cars, but trying not to hit the little people. Son, now 13, would be useful to have around. He can lift the case of water into the back of the car. (Shh. Don’t tell. I buy plastic.)

Taking the kids is about more than needing he-man strength. It’s about bonding. It wasn’t so long ago grocery shopping was my math lesson. Maybe next time I’ll take the kids.

You know the more I think about it, grocery shopping was also a contact sport when my son couldn’t have been more than seven ran face first into the shopping cart handle. Got a big black and blue from that one. And the time Daughter was two and some crazy old man with a cane told her he loved her. 

Take the kids? Yeah, right. Then it will be me who needs the wine.