I love to go food shopping. Especially when it’s for a good meal. If the weather’s cooperative and I can go to an outdoor natural-type market featuring locally grown food, all the better, but Seattle has a fairly good selection of grocery stores that offer a wide, healthy/organic variety of fresh produce, grains, meats and dairy.
After work the other day I had a hankering for some halibut, so went to my favorite local spot, African basket on my arm, to pick up some fish and a few things to accompany Halibut with Sambal Vinaigrette and Wasabi Cream. I always start in the produce section because just wandering amongst the jumble of colors, smells and assorted textures of the fruit and veggies can put me in a zen-like state. Picking up a perky bundle of cilantro and rubbing the leaves gently between my fingers and breathing in the exotic scent is truly aromatherapy. And the wide variety of say, tomatoes, or lettuces, we have available these days can make me downright giddy! I’ve seen, like, four different colors of cauliflower!
When I stepped up to the fish counter the woman waiting to help me, (is she called a fish monger? Fish wife is obviously dated…Fish Frau?) jerked her head around and asked what perfume I was wearing. I looked around and behind me, because surely she couldn’t be talking about me? From over five-feet away and across a huge pile of fish, prawns and assorted rubbery looking pungent fishy things the woman could smell the hippie-dippie amber oil I ritualistically daubed on my wrist over six hours ago!?! But, yes, she did. In between deftly hacking the halibut and asking what my perfume was I got a bit confused when she asked “How much?” and I fumbled out, “Just a dab…” She got to laughing so hard I was worried for her safety with the knife and slippery fish flesh, but then she asked me to come around the counter to see if the portions looked right, and took the opportunity to sniff me, confirming that, yes indeed, it was me.
After picking up a few other things, all the while enjoying the whole process of selecting the best, tastiest ingredients for the meal, secretly reveling in my choices, I made my way to the counter where a young guy, probably 20 years younger than I, was manning the register. I quickly unloaded my basket and swung it over to the bagger and was swiping my debit card when the checker, peering into the little cloth bag I use for produce inquired “Bok choy? (slight pause) Baby?” referring of course to Baby Bok Choy, but being in my giddy good-food shopping state-of-being I promptly said “Yes! (very slight pause) Ba-bay!” No response. Control dials started spinning, I smelled smoke, the ground started looming up and wham! Nose dive straight into the ground! It took everything I had to muster the courage to look him in the eye when he handed me my receipt. But by the time I got to the car, my growling tummy got me back to where I needed to be to get home and properly prepare the meal with an abundance of love. And a little bit of wrist-sniffing.