Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fresh & Sleazy?

We used to make fun of my Canadian grandmother for coming down to the states and going on long soliloquies about the price of peas. When one of us was on a particularly impassioned rant about something dull, the rest of us would tease them by inquiring about the price of peas. But nowadays grocery shopping IS interesting.

I was so excited to see the shining new Fresh & Easy just down the street from my house. When I was in England I found the grocery stores made more sense to me, both in layout and selection. Of course it was too much to hope they could kick me down some Heinz Baked beans or Tetley Tea. But I knew they would have lots of ready-to-cook options and I haven't been cooking much.

Fresh flowers at the doorway were a good sign. Yams so spoiled that they were bursting and turning to liquid, swarming with fruit flies, was a very bad sign. They must have gone unchecked for days to that to happen. But, these things happen, and so onward. Their fresh-cut fruit was at the peak of ripeness and looked beautiful.

They had lots of what I expected to find, these little instant meals that far surpass American instants in flavor, and more Indian flavors. You can buy them already cooked or ready-to-cook.

Besides the ready-to-cook meals, and Indian flavors, there was a wider variety of dried beans and whole grains, which alone would bring me back.

There were a few other signs of British influence, like more fresh lamb. I do have to confess that some of the meats were just not the right color. The sausages and ribs I bought expired two days after I purchased them and had to be thrown away. In the market I had heard someone explaining to an upset customer, "We are a new store, so we don't have enough clientele, but the computer orders more automatically." Still, that's no excuse. Send me through that meat section and the veg with a big trash bag and problem solved.

They did kick me down one Brit giftie...English bacon!

I like the check-yourself-out kiosks because they have a little cartoon version of me showing my movements. And that version is thin and attractive. I still managed to walk out without paying in spite of the cool virtual me because I was so chatty with the employee.

I did return to pay, and I will say that I expected 4 dinners, a week of lunches, some snacks and the usual to be about 40 bucks more than it was. (I haven't deducted the meat I had to throw away.) I will return for some items, like their delicious hummus, but I'll avoid the meat aisle until they have built up a bigger clientele.

As I drove home, I was calculating the savings in my head, and tallying up my booty. In my count I realized there were frozen peas in the grocery bag. So grandma, where ever you are up there, I am carrying on the tradition.

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