gently prodded the small Lebanese cucumbers and asked me warily, "What are they?"
"Cucumbers," I tell him and then, because he still looks doubtful I add, "Lebanese cucumbers."
"Oh, I don't eat that sort of stuff."
That is fairly obvious.
"My Mum just gets frozen stuff."
Right. Frozen "stuff" is labelled. It probably comes from China. My father refuses to have it in the house. He does not trust Chinese food production standards.
I am of the opinion that fresh is best and that it is better to buy those things in season if you can afford it. I would prefer to go without other things and eat modestly but well. I do not look to buy cherries in the middle of winter or mandarins in the middle of summer.
Our greengrocer will stock some out of season items but he has a firm rule that, wherever possible, he buys locally and then within Australia. Anything that comes from overseas comes as a last resort. Garlic is one example. Australia does not grow a lot of garlic. It is a common ingredient in Australian cuisine. Out of season our greengrocer will source it from Mexico.
I normally buy from the greengrocer as well but the Lebanese cucumbers were labelled "produce of Australia" and I had to hope the label was honest.
But I wondered about the boy at the checkout. If he does not know what a commonly used cucumber is what does he eat? It is not the first time I have come across such difficulties.
The supermarket staff have, more than once, not known what a fairly common vegetable is. Brussels sprouts? Parsnip? Aubergine? Cauliflower? As for the different varieties of potato or pumpkin or tomato I have heard them ask the customer what they are. Yes, they have a lot to learn about the stock but these are vegetables most people eat on a regular basis.
The greengrocer is a big and very busy place. There are several boys who work there as well as a number of girls and older women. They all know the stock. They know the difference between the four main varieties of pumpkin and they can tell you what sort of potatoes to use for mashing, salad or chipping. They know one variety of apple from another. The greengrocer has seen to that. I suspect the staff eat their vegetables too.
It makes life much easier for the customers.