learn your vegetables

I don’t wait for the refrigerator or pantry to go completely bare, or do I keep it stocked full of goods. This makes for quick and simple shopping that people in big cities with no cars enjoy, without the humiliation of schlepping plastic bags for more than two blocks. By American standards this is impractical, but I happen to like the notion that the grocery store will host rotted meat and moldy vegetables rather than have them overstay their welcome in my refrigerator.

I was on one of my quick trips, thinking of the things I don’t have for a simple meal: Korean spiced pork ribs, sesame cabbage slaw, and chocolate ice cream. This was going to be a simple, with the exception of the cabbage, since it doesn’t have a bar code on it. Because of the turn over and the price I rarely by produce in the grocery store, but given the relative convenience of one-stop-shopping I couldn’t turn it down. All of my items fit in a hand basket, but because of the damn cabbage, I didn’t want to use the self-checkout lane. Though the process is “self driven” when produce is placed on a scale it is also put in front of a camera where a clerk 5 yards away tries to assess its phyla and looks up the PLU code through the plastic bag.

Inevitably, you hear a disembodied voice asking “What is it?”
You reply with “It’s an onion”, or “Buddha’s hand ginger”.

Time passes while the PLU code is looked up, and you wonder why you ever stepped foot in the self-checkout lane with an unmarked item. One would never willingly buy condoms, enema, or suppositories without a price tag clearly marked or the bar code obscured.

I chose a cashier-attended checkout lane. The cashier was a new face, so I knew I was in for a bit of a wait. The woman in front of me had successfully scanned mints, cookies, and soymilk (a sure sign of a troublemaker, buying soy milk that isn’t vacuum-sealed). There were two items left, a 24-pack of bottled water and… lettuce. The red-leaf blush bibb lettuce was scanning in at $2.99 a pound. Obviously nobody being a food expert in the immediate area, the customer was confident in saying that the PLU code was incorrect. The codes for hydroponic, organic, Amish, fetish, and oompah-loompa lettuce and they were all $2.99 a pound. Visibly shaken, the customer asked to see the book of PLU codes. She stood back and cocked her head up so she didn’t have to put on glasses. “How about… bibb. Did you try that? Or maybe it’s the Boston bibb.”
This woman needed to die right then and there. It’s one thing to argue the price of something you feel is unfair. It’s absolutely ridiculous to argue the price of something you don’t know about. This woman would be laughed off a lot of a foreign car lot if she said that the price of a luxury sedan should be the price of a domestic sub-compact car.

I stared at this woman with hatred. She knew that she was holding up the line and tried to diffuse the situation by accepting the price and a modest laughter. Her jovial “ha ha ha, isn’t the universe funny like that” attitude came crashing down after the cashier said they would require an override to complete her order. Since the lettuce was voided so many times, it had triggered a lock on her order requiring a manager to assess the voided objects. The customer sighed and assumed a posture of annoyance. I glanced over at other checkout lanes and saw some people finishing up their business and happily walking out the door. I wished those people harm too, and as I was starting my incantation of death to these people, the woman in front of me had the nerve to say; “You know, I was supposed to pick up my husband like 15 minutes ago.”

This statement of this woman’s agenda tried to make her seem important and rushed. To the cashier, the bagger, and the three other people behind me this statement meant that I could have first stab at her.


Thankfully the air conditioning unit is in the bedroom window. Night time is a bit more bearable. Mr Kitty seems fascinated with the air that it pushes. He stands in a stream of cold air and lifts his head and closes his eyes. The unit blocks his usual window sill, but I’m sure he’s enjoying the cool air more.

This heat is not as miserable as my current hair situation. I’ve been wearing it dry and without product in hopes that I find a salon that seems pleasant enough.


We were raised to believe that we can do anything that we want and that indulgence isn’t a bad thing. All of us that have stress look to relievers that fix the crushing pain of our existance. “Ultra-premium” alcohol made from the by-products of cheese production, neoprene sacks filled with a viscous polymer, “FUN”-sized portions snack food all try to buffer the crushing reality of the work-a-day life. Institutions of stress-relief all seem to temporarily assuage the rage. Everyone knows that they have to put down the beer, hit that last golf-ball, or wipe the smell of the sex-worker off before going home. The fun pizza parlors or restaurants of our youth were something special and to look forward to. As adults, restaurants are enhanced by the variety of cheese that one can get on a nacho platter or the being imported all the way from the wine region of California. We don’t have the excitement for extra spicy chicken wings and four cheese nachos as kids love video games and a ball pit.

Instead of cursing what is out there now, a friend of mine and I decided to do something about it. In combining the healing powers of group therapy (inspired by the reality television show “Starting Over”) and food. Tables would be set up according to issue or emotional need. We haven’t figured out if the wait staff would moderate or we’d have some trained professional at each table. Set menus would be according to the various moods.

“Light” consisting of simple sandwiches, salads, assorted fruits and cheeses. Big portions perfect for that sense of well being that can only be attained by non-spicy foods.

“Comfort” American classics like pot pie and macaroni & cheese. This menu is served in small portions so that the diner can eat and not feel guilty and on the same token complain about the amount of food rather then their problems.

“Crying” Choose 3 sweets: pastry, ice cream, chocolate du jour.
Mix them, match them… maybe get three of one kind.

We came up with the following names for this restaunthapy:

gab ‘n gob
chat and snack
eat ‘n greet
food ‘n freud
chow chow
tea and sympathy
the healing table
deep fried issues

big time sensuality? i don’t think i can afford it

I came across the Bjork “Big Time Sensuality” video a few days ago. Since then I’ve had a huge revival for the wonderfully quirky Icelandic singer. It turns out that she has had somewhat of a same turn of events as well. Her song “Army of Me” is being covered by several artists and the proceeds will be going to UNICEF. To inject my own cosmic theory into I understand this to be a sign to go to Iceland. Bjork gives to UNICEF. UNICEF was established on my birthday. I must go to Iceland.

I thought that the flight was reasonable and the lodging a tad on the expensive side, but I thought it would be a great destination. How many people out there wax longingly about the old cities of Europe? Breaking out of the Euro-bore attitude, I thought I could experience life and wind up with stories about Reykjavik. Furthering my research on Iceland led me to various travel sites on the Internet and I found some disturbing posts. Some complained about the US$5-9 beers. Other travelers talked about sticking close to the traditional menu to save money. One traveler was so bold to say that Iceland makes a trip to London look cheap.

The prospect of eating mutton and reindeer meat didn’t phase me, but the thought of having to pay out the nose for salad greens and coffee made me wonder if people from other affluent countries swarm to Iceland. Tourists with bundles of cash and adventurous spirits find themselves wherever I go. There are the Belgians and French in their chill outfits. The Spaniards with their tanned innocent faces almost timid in crowds of non-Spanish. The Italians constantly on the mobile phone all the while smoking like there’s no tomorrow. The British bitching about… everything. The curious Taiwanese youth with an even more curious budget. The Japanese of course, are everywhere.

Could Iceland be the one place that these people aren’t interested in? I hope the cold climate during our waning summer days would be the last thing on tourists’ minds. I’d hate to find out that the rotted shark meat is a thrill that many people are seeking.

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