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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Have You Made Your Grocery List Today?

Every counter in the kitchen, every pocket of my pants, and scattered around my pocket book and wallet are random sized pieces of paper written in various colors of ink creating grocery lists. I on occasion, absent mindedly pick up these lists of yore and feel calm as my eyes caress the items that make our house run. There were days of coupons, when I judiciously snipped, filed and threw away more than I used. Now I have moved on to obsess about which store to forage in for our supplies. My buzz words are local, organic, and sustainable.

They are not profound grocery lists full of forgettable ingredients for an haute cuisine meal but lists of mundane needs for the house to keep it running.

The list often starts out with the trilogy milk, o.j., and bread. Then the generic notation of meat, fish, potatoes and veggies. These items are road maps to creativity in the grocery store. Now the list gets into the occasionally needed but no less necessary item. So we add dog food both dry, and wet. Not to be outdone is the dry and wet cat food and an occasional addition of cat litter. There can be asides of less than exotic items that must be in the home at all times- flour, yeast, Perrier. Sometimes recipes have been researched in advance for a meal and those items receive special treatment with underlining, CAPITALIZATION, circles and exclamation marks! Vitamins need an added reminder because of their variety and we never need all of them at the same time. Holiday grocery lists are still pretty much the same but with a theme- the Thanksgiving list always mentions turkey, cranberry sauce, and cubed bread as if it could be forgotten!

Once at the grocery store of choice the list becomes alive and the word meat is translated into veal chops, hamburger, or pork. The fish becomes fresh scallops pregnant with sweetness, halibut cheeks with their unique texture, or the first wild salmon of the year. Vegetables burst into the cart after I have pondered their origin nestling amongst the organic milk and no pulp orange juice. The word bread always gives me a pause at the store. Here a decision has to be made. Who will be home during the week to consume it? Should the bread be an uncut artisan loaf or a pre-sliced whole wheat sandwich loaf and in that case are sandwich meats needed?

To keep my life simple I have settled on certain products that I can buy without pondering. I always buy the same basics. It keeps me simple- Aim toothpaste, Neutrogena soap, and for many years Cascade dishwashing soap that has been recently replaced with Seventh Generation dishwashing soap (see there is room for change). I save my questing for interesting canned goods, olive oils, mastering new ingredients, spices or which coffee to buy. Give me a free sample and if it passes the taste test it goes in the cart.

To come across an old grocery list that has made it through the washing machine is like an archeologist trying to put some import on a simple water vessel. The list is my own special map for taming the grocery store and wresting the supplies needed to maintain my household’s happiness. When I do find my maps dotting the house I glance at them, sigh as I remember cruising the isles for the items and then throw them away. I could save time by continuing the list, instead of using a new piece of paper, but it would like retracing my steps. A new sheet is needed for a new quest.

Sometimes the lists go AWOL before they hit the store and in that case I play the remembering game. It’s a win-lose game with the down side being a new list started as soon as the groceries are put away.

My grocery lists bridge the home and store. With them I am able to navigate the isles unscathed by temptations and bring home the bacon.