Today, it was buggy-to-buggy traffic inside my hometown Publix. I was mom’s assistant and hoping to help her pare down her errand list so she could enjoy Christmas Eve without added food runs to feed the 14 – the number of hungry mouths when all our nuclear family is present.
As mom chipped away at her list, I searched for a certain, softspread wedge-wrapped cheese I had tried the night before at my sister’s. While we’re not trashing the Laughing Cow brand, our initial venture into this cheese land, we deemed the new brand better suited. And while I loved the new treat, I neglected to remember its name. So I was on a mission to find it. After exhausting the regular cheese area and the Laughing Cow cheese spread area, I happened over to the import section. I saw more cheeses than I’d ever imagined snuggled into a refrigerated case near another case where two chefs performed various cheese tasks and doled out culinary tips on wine parings.
My big discovery was a wine bottle chiller – not new to probably most of the planet, but a simple and fun surprise to me as I found that 8 minutes in the chiller made the wine “just right.” I poked around tentatively looking for said softspread wedge-wrapped cheese.
“Are you finding what you need?” the friendly female chef asked.
“The truth or a lie,” went the conversation within my head. “Should I really bother her with my lack of ability to find said, softspread wedge-wrapped cheese?”
I decided to bother her. Her name was Kitty. She was tall and patient and delighted in the buggy-to-buggy traffic I mentioned earlier.
“I’ll give you an escorted tour,” Kitty said as she glided between the paused and parked carts with food and without drivers. She paused at the Laughing Cow display where we did a thorough examination to make sure I hadn’t overlooked anything. I told her I had already made my way to the other cheeses, shredded and otherwise, in the dairy area. From there she took me past what she called the “wall o’ yogurt,” which was pretty amazing when you consider how simple the whole idea of yogurt is.
“I used to be an accountant until I became a chef four years ago,” Kitty volunteered.
“Really?” I replied. “I’m married to one!”
Then Kitty proceeded to explain to me that every 10 years a large survey is conducted about Americans and their food preferences. She did a Vanna White-type wave toward the “wall o’ yogurt” as we passed by telling me that the last survey had seen the biggest increase in Americans loving and eating yogurt.
“Dang,” I thought. That’s some pretty privileged trivia born out in the 3,000 flavors of yogurt that particular store offers. And as interesting as it was to know, I still wanted to find that wedge-wrapped cheese.
Our tour continued to the one last place Kitty thought to look and although we were unsuccessful, I rather enjoyed the diversion of being on such a hunt and getting the inside scoop on Americans and eating. I showed Kitty the Boursin (light) cheese spread I had selected as a back up.
“You can’t go wrong with that,” she commented. “And you can eat twice as much and not feel guilty!”
I loved her idea and then she made a confession – that she had bought two of the same product for a friend coming to visit her over Christmas.
“I realize now,” she said, “I can’t keep this around my house. I ate both of them!”
And with that I was off – without my wedge-wrapped cheese – but thankful for a break in the monotony of dodging distracted drivers on the grocery store aisles and helping mom.