Lee Pitts: Fancy Foo Foo Food
I’ve always loved being able to identity things. Whether it was guessing state license plates from afar, parts of dead frogs in zoology, breeds of dogs, Democrats or Republicans, makes of cars, kinds of cattle or cats, and crops growing along the road. It’s one reason why I enjoy grocery shopping so much which I’ve done religiously with my wife for 46 years. We’re lucky to live in an area where hundreds of crops are grown and I love being able to identify all the different fruits and vegetables, as well as the cuts of meat. From yards away I can identify Chinese artichokes, bok choy, white asparagus, purple sweet potatoes, purple carrots, kumquats, calabash, fiddleheads, daikon radishes, rutabagas, Hass avocados, kohlrabi, jackfruit, star fruit, tomatillo, tripe, top sirloins and tiger nuts (Insert snarky comment here).
My wife was a cashier in a grocery store for over 30 years and when grocery stores made the switch to scanners she had to learn to identify every single fruit or vegetable in the store and its corresponding number code so when it was weighed all she had to do was punch in its code and the computer did the rest. I remember quizzing her in the produce aisle and in the process I learned all the names of vegetables too. My wife became so good at this that she became the go-to authority in the store. For example, another checker would hold up a fruit and yell out, “Diane, what is this?”
“It’s an ugli fruit,” she’d reply.
“I know it’s ugly, but what is it.”
“I’m telling you it’s an ugli fruit.”
Eventually my wife would just yell out its code and the other checker would find out it truly was called an ugli fruit. You should have heard the exchange when my wife informed them the name of a vegetable was “yardlong”.
“No it’s not, it’s only eight inches,” another checker would reply.
“It may be two inches but it’s still yardlong, also known as asparagus bean, number 345.”
I tell you, it was like the old Laurel and Hardy routine Hardy routine of Who’s on First.
In the good old days when I was a kid we didn’t have to learn all these foo foo foods like Napa cabbage, sea chokes, sea beans, lichis, paw paw, and jicama. (No, that wasn’t a hiccup.) A paw paw is also known as a yam bean. I wish they’d make up their mind, is it a yam or is it a bean?
In my youth you went to a barbecue and it was beef steaks, potatoes, French bread drenched in real butter, iceberg lettuce, green beans and homemade vanilla ice cream. If you got real daring it was a green Jello salad instead of a red one. But now it’s empenadas with goat cheese, pomelos with soapberry dressing, Brussel sprouts with Fava beans and onion seeds, a salad made from four different kinds of leafy greens, roasted leeks and rhubarb. Speaking of rhubarb, anyone who has ever raised the stuff, like me, knows that dogs like to pee on it, so I’d stay away from the rhubarb pie if I were you.
The outbreak of fancy foo foo food has gotten so bad that at the last branding we attended someone brought their own fake meat because their teenage daughter was going through the mandatory vegetarian phase all young girls go through. As usual, my buddy fed the congregation of dogs who worshipped at the barbecue pit little pieces of meat. When he fed a pinch of the fake beef burger to a Dachshund it gagged it back up and started barking at it. It wouldn’t stop barking until the offensive burger was wrapped in newspaper and thrown in the trash can. Even then the Dachshund with extremely good taste kept snarling at it.
This gave me a great idea. I’m sure you’ve seen “service dogs” in the grocery store? I told my buddy he could get rich by developing a strain of Beyond Meat® sniffing dogs and selling them as service dogs so that whenever a sensitive shopper came across fake, or other fancy foo foo food, their service dog would sniff it out and start yapping so incessantly at the disgusting feedstuff that every shopper in the store would know to stay away.
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