Sunday, February 20, 2005

I am appalled

About a week ago I went to the grocery store and purchased, among other things, a smallish bunch of cilantro. I was standing in the checkout line, absentmindedly watching the prices tally up on the register display, when I noticed that the checkout girl had keyed in my cilantro as asparagus. I pointed the error out, and the girl asked me, "Well, what is it, then?"

I was a little shocked that she didn't recognize the cilantro. I would give her a break if I thought it was an herb solely used by snobby foodies like me. But there are a lot of Mexican-Americans in our area. Surely they buy cilantro every day. I wonder if their receipts tell a different story.

Anyhow, it didn't matter in the long run. In fact, we benefitted. After we got home, I found that in the confusion, the cashier had forgotten to ring up our bottle of red wine. Free wine!

So today I went back to the store for some more provisions. Squashes were on sale, so I bought both yellow crooknecks and zucchini. Lo and behold, the cashier was befuddled by the zucchini. I saw her furrowing her brow and tracing her finger up and down the produce code sheet.

The bag boy noticed, too. He assumed an air of superiority. "Know what that is?" he asked her.

"No, what?"

"Okra!" he announced proudly.


Am I to understand that here, in the heart of soul food country, twenty-somethings are unable to recognize okra unless it has previously been chopped, breaded, deep-fried, and frozen for their convenience?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Even though fresh potatoes are one of the cheapest foods available, I have noticed that the meat-n-three across the street uses canned ones. All of their vegetables are canned.

We are so screwed.

The misidentification of my zucchini left me breathless. All I could do was stammer, "No, it's not!" The checkout girl and the bag boy looked at me expectantly, having no alternate theories.

I recommend a mandatory Produce Quiz Bowl weekly for all Ingles employees.

But in the end, what would probably work best is what I said on my way out the door. "Y'all need to eat more fresh vegetables."