Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The boy at the checkout

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.


widdershins said...

Long live the 100k lifestyle. . .

It's a bit like the story of inner-city kids who went on a trip into the countryside and saw the stars for the FIRST time. Still makes me sad.

catdownunder said...

Yes, I have met kids who have never seen a cow and think milk comes in cartons and have never seen vegetables actually growing.
As for not seeing the stars - how in the heck do they learn to dream!

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. See the post on my blog.

Rachel Fenton said...

I remember my child's nursery teacher taking me to one side to say how clever my kid was for naming various "exotic" fruits and veg. I laughed. You don't have to be clever to eat well.

Sheep Rustler said...

Your father is quite right not to trust in Chinese food production safety. Abd I despair of the supermarket staff no0t knowing what quite simple things are. even if the boy did not specifically know something was a Lebanese cucumber(and not everyone does) it is a terrible shame that he didn't recognise it as being cucumber-shaped and coloured, if a bit small.

Having said all that,having a small quantity of frozen veg for emergencies is a good idea. But I always make sure that it is Australian produce. Whenever possible I buy Australian fruit and veg and we are starting to grow more of our own now that we have moved to a house with an already-productive vegie garden and space for more.