Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sampling The Samples....An Essay From Scrunchie-Fried

On a recent trip to visit my sister in Dayton, Ohio, I made the discovery of all discoveries regarding the sampling of food items in the local grocery store. A new Kroger had opened up near her and it had everything one could possibly need--all in one place. It had the normal things that you find in a grocery store, but it also has a furniture department, a jewelry store, a large toy section, several large appliances could be found for sale, and I'm not sure, but I think I saw a used car lot out back.

In a store this big, one can only imagine the food selection that is available. Every ethnicity that you could imagine had its own section. The Hispanic section offered so many kinds and flavors of chilies that I lost count. The Oriental section had many kinds of rice and the different sauces to cook them in. Over in the India section was curry-flavored this and dozens of kinds of incense for which to dine by. It was sensory overload.

The meat department not only had a terrific selection of meats, but they also had someone that was preparing certain kinds of meats that you could try--almost a try it before you buy it.

The bakery department had such a huge selection of doughnuts, cakes, and pastries that I almost passed out from the sight of it all.

And the pie`ce de resistance was the cheese section. Have I ever mentioned that I love cheese?

All kinds.

Well, almost all kinds--Limburger cheese is an acquired taste and I've yet to acquire it, so I can't claim all. They had every imaginable kind of cheese that you could imagine and still others that I had never imagined. The section was staffed, too, so you could try a sample. And another plus, because as much as I want to pay $57 for a pound of Extra Sharp Vermont Mountain Cheddar imported from Holland, at this point in my life it doesn't seem quite practical.

Maybe if I win the Lottery!

Having become distracted by the cheese section, I almost forgot about the Deli section. There were various flavors of chips and dips to try. You could get a sub sandwich made on the spot, have a bowl of soup or get a plate lunch from the ready-made foods. Heck, they even had an area where you could sit down and eat your purchase without ever leaving the store.

I was in awe. They just don't have stores like this where I live.

My sister looked at my slack-jawed expression and said, "You think this is something, wait until we come back tomorrow."

"Why? What's happening tomorrow?" I asked.

"Have you not been paying attention?" she asked. "This is the worst possible time of day if you want to check out the samples. They've all been sampled already. The only thing left is just crumbs and pieces. We're going to get here about 10:00 am in the morning. That's usually the time they have all of the samples out."

We continued on our visit through the store picking up the few items that were on her list. On more than one occasion I found myself drifting over to a display case where a sample container was located. Sure enough, she was right, there wasn't anything left but crumbs and pieces. I locked eyes with my sister and she mouthed these words to me, "Wait until tomorrow."

The next day we were up early in anticipation of our visit to the grocery store. I was surprised when we pulled into the parking lot at just how many cars were already there. "Are they having some kind of big sale?" I asked innocently.

"No," my sister replied. "They are here for the samples."

And indeed they were.

Normally, when shopping with my sister, every aisle and every shelf must be visited. You never know when or where you will find something on sale. But not this time, we went straight to the back of the store where the first of many sample containers was located. The gentleman was handing out samples of Filet Mignon. Yes, you heard me, Filet Mignon. "Sample, madam?" he said in a distinguished British accent offering me a bite-sized tidbit.

"Thank you," I said accepting his offer.

"Hello, Clive," said my sister.

"Ah, Miss Teresa, it is excellent to see you again. How are you this fine morning?"

"Just lovely, Clive. Allow me to introduce my baby sister, Gianetta Mia Palmer; she's visiting from Georgia."

Clive smiled warmly at me and bowed stiffly, "My pleasure to make your acquaintance. What a lovely name you have. How are you finding our weather? Quite cold, isn't it?"

"Thank you. Yes, a bit colder than I expected."

"Indeed. I see you made it in time to partake of the samples.

"Yep, I sure did. We don't have any stores like this where I live."

"Splendid. I won't keep you then. I'm sure the regular crew is already here and are sampling way more than they should," he said with a chuckle. "Good Day!" he continued. "And here's one more for the road," offering us another sample of the Filet Mignon.

"He's very nice," I said. "What did he mean about the regular crew?"

"The regular crew is those people that come here every day just for the samples. They never buy anything they just eat all the samples. That's how Clive and I met--we loved sampling the Filet Mignon, but the regulars would always eat everything before we would get a chance. It upset Clive so much that he filled out an application one day and started working the next. Within a few weeks, he was in charge of handing out the samples in the meat department and I've had Filet Mignon ever since."

"Wow! That's great! Come on, I want to check out the cheese department before all of the samples are gone."

My sister smiled and looked at me. "No need to worry about that. I'm on a first-name basis with the lady that hands out the samples there, too. Sometimes, it does matter who you know," she said with a grin.



sonokate said...

Awesome! We might have to have the van stop off there for supplies before we head back to the Marriott. Set up a buffet in someone's room. Ha!

About cheese . . . do you like Stilton? I innocently ordered what sounded like a lovely salad that included Stilton cheese, which I'd never had before. I about hurled on my plate in this very nice restaurant at the Opryland Hotel. I love cheese, too. But Stilton? Made by the devil (as is limburger, IMO).

Love this piece, Gianetta!

Gianetta said...

You had me at Buffet! I've never had Stilton, and now that you've described your reaction I'll avoid it for sure. Can't wait to see you!

sonokate said...

I'm bringing ingredients to make my mother's 1950's whiskey sours. And everything goes with chocolate chip cookies, so - we're good! Even better with some Kroger cheese and crackers, if possible.

Are you driving to Dayton? I'm driving from my home east of Cleveland - about a four hour trip. Oh - and my brother lives in Dayton, too! Not more than a mile or so from the Marriott in Oakwood.

You know, when I went to Erma in 2012 (missed 2014) I was relatively new to Facebook and didn't get involved on the Erma page. I realize now how freaking AMAZEBALLS it is to "meet" people this way in advance. I will not go to Dayton thinking I only know the one person I've kept in touch with since 2012 (can't wait to see Judith again!), but also this whole new group that I've had a ball getting to know a bit online this past year or so. I will be like a groupie, running around saying, "Oh, my GAWD! It's GIANETTA!!! It's Linda Roy! It's (fill in the blank)! I am going to be so amped up and excited before I even get there, I'll be running around like a two-year-old disguised in the chunky, elderly body that is currently my outward persona.

Have a great evening, my friend!



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