Some people hate to grocery shop but the Mr. Know-it-all system can ease the pain of victual procurement. Mr. Know-it-all shops twice a year, visiting the local Colossal-Mammoth Mart. It has everything and it’s big with a capitol B. The parking lot can be seen from outer space. The store itself is like the box an NFL stadium comes in. Join me for a typical provisions sortie.
I opted to park near the edge of the parking lot, taking advantage the convenient 15-minute flight (via Dehaviland Otter) to the front door instead of the two-hour Greyhound Bus ride.
I deplaned and grabbed a cart from the line that stretched to the horizon and immediately spotted the small sign declaring that this cart was equipped with a system that would insure a wheel would lock up if pushed beyond a yellow line. Mission Impossible didn’t have this kind of high tech instrumentation. Off I went, only to discover that the wheel that was supposed to “lock up” vibrated like a guitar string if moving faster than the growth rate of a fingernail. Despite this handicap, I pressed forward. I needed to eat.
Once through the entrance, a shopper is overwhelmed by the “on sale” items. These products were acquired in great quantities (because of a better than average harvest in the Ukraine, I suppose) and were stacked floor to ceiling. The top shelves of the racks appeared to have snow on them. It can give one the feeling of claustrophobia, at worst, or the sense of strolling down NYC’s Wall Street, at best. I scurried past mountains of canned macaroni and cheese, microwavable ice cream, and dented cans of cream of periwinkle soup. My aim was the “good stuff.”
Turning the first corner, every member of the Plantae kingdom laid before me. Some products didn’t even have a name yet, merely a sign near it that read: “edible.” These items had originally been traded for a new machete and “bush meat” in order to be rushed to this one location. Peppers of every color: green, red, yellow, stripes, checks, and one with a paisley pattern were offered by the crate. It was Green Grocer Valhalla.
At length I was assailed by an odor that might be described as that of a decaying camel or a herd of decaying camels. Following my nose, I found myself in an area that could be likened to the Island of Misfit Toys. There, I saw the aptly named star fruit, uglee fruit, and several items that looked more like weapons than comestibles. Still the scent grew stronger with each step. Then I approached a sign reading: “Warning: Durian” (an item rumored to taste like “warm feet”). I leaned closer to determine if the stench was emanating from this product. There was a conspicuous lack of fruit flies (also imported from afar, no doubt). Apparently, even insects give the Durian a wide berth.
A man stationed nearby, wearing a cotton facemask, quickly moved to intercept me.
“No, sir. You don’t want that.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Grabbed the front of my cart and steering it back toward the main current, the man shook his head saying, “Trust me on this.” He was a professional. I moved on.
Shimmering on the horizon before me like a mirage loomed the seafood and meat section. When visiting the seafood section one is greeted by the live lobster tank. Inside the murky waters, creatures that resemble an aquatic scorpion lie in wait for the unwary human who might press his or her face to the glass. With lightning speed, these dangerous vermin rush forward banging its manacled claws against the sides, antennae eyes searching for a weak spot: in the human and/or the glass almost daring you to take them home. “Come on, pal. You think you can go 10 rounds with Mohammed Langistino? Show me what you got.” I sidled forward, keeping the cart between myself and these demonic creatures.
A panorama of saltwater bounty opened up before my startled eyes. Everything from krill to grey whales could be purchased here.
I had a taste for shrimp. This is priced by size — number of shrimp needed to weigh a pound — with the least per pound being the most expensive. The shrimp I settled on reminded me of the “sea monkeys” given to me by a visiting aunt for my 6th birthday. The number needed to make a pound was 6.35 to the 85th power. They were small … but cheap.
I’m sure some of these denizens of the deep came from a world untouched by sunlight. Pallid, thin, but dangerous nonetheless. Things too terrifying to name. I’ll never swim in the ocean again.
Pointing at a particularly unappealing beast, I asked what it was. The man behind the counter jerked his thumb over his shoulder at a poster displaying every sea creature known to man. My gaze drifted down the chart, awed by the shear number. Until the very last image, burned into my memory. It was a beautiful mermaid wearing nothing but a scallop-shell bra and a beguiling smile. I was crestfallen. All I could think of was Daryl Hannah in Splash. I returned the shrimp and proceeded to the beef section.
For those who don’t know, every part of a cow or pig or okapi or whatever is eaten by somebody … except maybe the horns, and I’m sure somewhere someone makes a “horn stew” they claim “is to die for.”
Liver, kidney, tongue? Childs’ play. Every tidbit and morsel is laid out for the prying human eye. I didn’t know cows had that many parts.
Oxtail is actually a cow’s tail. Having been around more than two cows in my life and observing their behavior I have noted their tails are less expeditious than some of their bodily functions leaving oxtail low on my list of culinary desires. The same goes for pig’s feet. I’ve seen where those coven hooves have trod. Pass.
On the subject of pigs: who cooks a pig’s head? My heart almost stopped when a pinkish mug stared up at me as I passed by (put sunglasses on that thing, please). And so many dead animals. This store has creatures not seen walking or crawling on their belly since the Jurassic era. The Grim Reaper himself would feel the underachiever in this charnel house.
Next up: Fowl balls