I Have Been Shopping (II)

Well, actually , I haven’t been shopping just yet, but I am working myself up to it and what I am writing here kind of relates to shopping, so there….

I had a look at the content of my fruitbowl this morning.  Californian Navel oranges, Ecuadorian bananas, a Philippine pineapple, Hawkes Bay nectarines, apricots and plums and a couple of punnets of local strawberries in the fridge.  I don’t analyse my fruitbowl scientifically everytime I go anywhere near it but it does pay to remind oneself from time to time that one is actually quite spoilt.  You see, I have not grown ANY of the fruit just mentioned.  At best, I could be accused of hunting my fruit bowl content down with skill and vigour in my local supermarket. Even that statement would only be partially true as I do not do all the hunting shopping and the content of our fruit bowl does not exclusively originate in the supermarket anyway.

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Do I write any of these items on my shopping list before I head out the door for a hunting & gathering session? Nope. At best, the bananas will get a mention.  Everything else is ‘fruit’ and herein lies the problem.  I don’t set out to buy nectarines or apricots but I expect to be able purchase consumable fruit.  Exactly which fruit I am going to buy depends entirely on what I see when I am in the store – and I look at the fruit before I look at the price!  If the fruit looks good and meets my purchase criteria at the time, I am likely to buy.  The price will influence HOW MANY pieces of fruit I buy but that is a secondary consideration.  If the fruit looks like shit does not inspire me with confidence that it will deliver the eating experience one associates with quality specimen of the species, I will not buy.  It is as simple as that.

When I think of fruit I think of pleasure.  I know I differ in this regard to John Cleese of Monty Python fame who thinks of fruit as assault weapons. I suppose he is right in one sense – a bad piece of fruit has the distinct potential to assault not only my tastebuds but also my willingness to buy fruit, that looks good but fails to please, again.  And as long as such a situation is possible, I do not think of apples, pears or mandarines when I prepare my shopping list, I think of FRUIT. Does it matter?

The answer is ‘yes’ – and ‘no’.  Yes, it does matter to the apple grower if I consistently do not purchase apples.  No, it does not matter to the supermarket or greengrocer whether I buy apples or table grapes as long as I buy something and store management is intelligent enough to adjust display volumes of individual types of fruit on the basis of customer response.  The only problem is that as long as I do not have a clear understanding of which fruit I want to buy until I stand in the produce department, I will be influenced to some degree by price. On the other hand, if I buy fruit for a specific recipe, I know I have to have it and I will make the purchase even if I have to grit my teeth. 

I decided to prepare a very European dish a couple of days ago, marinated herings.  This basically involves chopping up Matjes herings, an onion, some hardboiled eggs, a few gherkins and 2 Granny Smith apples, all of which get smothered with a marinade of sour cream, oil, vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper.  The recipe is very specific; the apples must be Granny Smith on account of the particular taste component this apple variety contributes to the overall dish. So what do I do?  I buy US imported Granny Smith apples for a price that could send me to my mortgage broker but I don’t question the validity of the decision.  Hey, not my problem, the recipe gave me no option.

Ah, so that is how it works. How can we increase the hit rate for purchases of this nature then?

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