Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Did People Shop For Groceries Before The iPhone?

I recently decided to try a recipe that calls for cippolini onions.  What is a cippolini onion?  Well, to be honest, I have no idea.  But I wrote “cippolini onions – 1 lb” on my shopping list, so that’s what I needed to buy. 
At the grocery store, I could not find any cippolini onions.  I circled the big onion display in the produce department several times, inspecting all the labels:  white onions, brown onions, red onions, pearl onions, shallots, garlic, where are the freaking cippolini onions? 
There were no cippolini onions at the grocery story.  At this point, I had three options:
  •           Option One: Go on a Mad Crazy Cippolini hunt and visit all of the grocery stores in a fifty mile radius until I could locate one pound of cippolini onions.
  •          Option Two: Consult my iPhone/Google.
  •          Option Three: Cry.
I was feeling rational, so thirty seconds later, I learned (a) how to pronounce “cippolini” (it begins with a “ch” sound) and (b) pearl onions are an acceptable substitute for cippolini onions.  Eureka!  I had seen the pearl onions next to the garlic.
Which brings me to garlic.  I love garlic, but I had a very bad experience with garlic when I was first learning to cook.  I was a graduate student and had cooked myself dinner maybe four times in my life (unless microwaving a frozen pizza counts).  But I was on a no-carb diet and desperate to eat something new and delicious.  I thought I had found my no-carb salvation in a recipe for chicken mole that needed two cloves of garlic. 
At the grocery store, I realized I did not know how much a “clove” of garlic is.  I carried an entire head of garlic to the man restocking the potatoes and asked him, “Is this a clove of garlic?”  He confidently confirmed that it was, so I bought and used two entire heads of garlic for my chicken mole.  It was a disaster.  Let’s just say I learned the difference between a “clove” and a “head” of garlic the hard way.  
After the Great Garlic Debacle, I lost my faith in produce department employees.  (I still regard the butcher as a minor deity).  For years, this made me wary of recipes with unknown ingredients.  My iPhone, however, has freed me and now I can always hunt down the most elusive of ingredients. The evil employees of the produce department will never again trick me into ruining a recipe with an unholy amount of garlic.    

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