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Food on the Table


Every place I live, I find that I have to adapt to a new way of buying food.
When we lived in India, almost all the food we ate came from a slightly more American style grocery store called Food World. I emphasized “slightly” as though the concept of the grocery store followed American-style, the store and selection were minute in comparison. I would place Aria on my hip in the sling and walk the ten minutes to the little chain store. I usually came home with my arms feeling like they would fall off from the weight of my groceries and my shoulder aching from a combination of heavy things in my hands, and a sling supporting a heavy baby. Usually I could take the elevator at our apartment building up the four flights of stairs, but of course there were those days when the electricity chose that particular time to leave us and I had to exert my last bit of energy to make the climb. A tall glass of water was always the thing I most wanted when I stepped through the door into our flat. Half-way through our eight months there, I began to take an occasional auto-rickshaw to Q-Mart, a little store with narrow aisles that nonetheless carried quite a few products that we greatly missed from foreign places like America. What a joy it was to find cheddar cheese that wasn’t processed! Then, near the end of our time in India, I found out about the nearby vegetable stand, and I bought lemons, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and garlic from a Muslim man who was always sleeping when I got there, usually with flies buzzing around his head. Milk in bags were delivered to our front door two days a week.
I came back to America and there I was in a supermarket, with so many choices. Grocery shopping automatically took longer. I loved browsing the organic section, carefully deducting how many organic things I could buy and still be a good steward of the money we had for food. I got everything in one store—usually Wegmans. The only trouble was, in order to go grocery shopping, I either had to go Saturday or Sunday when the store was ridiculously crowded, or drive John the twenty minutes into Syracuse for work so that I could have the car for the day.
Now Scotland. Scotland has taken it’s time in showing me the best and most efficient way to shop here. I still don’t have it entirely figured out. There is a grocery store right in town that I can shop at but their prices and selection are not their strong points. Morrisons has a good deal of selection as well as good prices, but it takes me half an hour to walk there, at least that to shop, and then another half hour back. To further complicate things, I have the girls with me in the double stroller. In order to shop, I lock up the stroller in a store cubicle, carry the girls back outside to get the right shopping cart, shop quickly, trying to avoid Aria and Kiera breakdowns, checkout, load the groceries into the stroller, lock it back up, take the shopping cart back outside to get my £ deposit, and then come back with both girls, load them in the stroller, and so heavily laden, exert my muscles to push the heavy thing back home. When I arrive home, I have to first carry the girls up the two flights of stairs, make a couple of trips for the groceries, and then lug the heavy stroller up. I feel tired just writing about it! And of course, then there are groceries to put away and usually one or both of the girls are unhappy or hungry or tired. So, I don’t do that every week. I DO do it every three or four weeks though, because we don’t have recycle bins and that particular store has a recycling centre where I take cans and glass (I still haven’t found a way to recycle my plastics!).
So obviously, that wasn’t working for every week. How was I going to cope with getting my groceries? A couple of months ago, Julie introduced me to online shopping. What a treat! For just £5 delivery fee, I can shop online for my groceries, decide on the day and time I want them, and that’s all! The delivery man carries all those heavy bags up the stairs and deposits them in my kitchen for me. Then it’s like Christmas. Aria and I sit on the floor and excitedly unpack the bags: pasta noodles, sauces, ice cream, meat, bread, whatever I want, surrounding me on the floor. All I have to do is put them away. Now this is a great option, but being of a frugal mind, I don’t always like to fork up the £5 for the delivery. Yes, it’s worth it and I love it, but if I did it every week that would be £20 a month and £240 a year—yikes! So, I do it every two or three weeks. Also, the vegetables aren’t always great. I prefer to pick them myself.
So, the dilemma continues.

I am such a nut when it comes to grocery shopping. I like getting my milk from Marks & Spenser‘s because I am confident that it is good and they have great policies regarding quality and environment. I like to get my free range eggs and fish from the little stand that exclusively sells eggs and fish because I like supporting farmers and small businesses. I’ve recently found a WONDERFUL fruit and vegetable shop where I now like to buy berries, apples, peaches, kiwi, spinach, cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, potatoes, almost any fruit or vegetable that I want. The down side is that it’s a half hour walk from our house, but don’t I have a knack of making shopping more complicated than it needs to be? And when we move, it’ll just be a fifteen minute jaunt away.:-) I’m obviously in America no longer… no one stop shop is working for me!

Today I bought two haddock fish fillets from the fish and egg stand. I’d been there a couple of times before and today the woman asked me in her charming Scottish accent, “Are ye Irish?” I love being asked that.:-) No I’m not and don’t even have a drop of Irish blood in me, though I have a last name, courtesy of my husband, that would beg to differ. John and I made up the fish with butter, lemon, fresh thyme, roasted garlic, and a dash of paprika, which we served alongside Mediterranean roasted vegetables. Such a satisfying meal makes all the work to get the food seem worth it!

2 Responses to “Food on the Table”

  1. G&G
    June 21st, 2007 19:33

    I got tired just reading about your shopping trips Rachel. I’ll stick with Wegmans thank you. We do so enjoy your entries.Give the babies hugs and kisses from great grandma. Love

  2. Jessica
    June 22nd, 2007 03:07

    this made me smile so much… although i know what it can be like figuring out grocery shopping… my most difficult days involved taking a bus and walking up a very steep, long driveway. i’m glad you’re figuring things out for scotland!

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