Yesterday I spent an hour and a half at the grocery store looking for ingredients for the dishes we’re planning to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. I went up and down each aisle 3 times.
All of these things were working against me:
1. The language barrier. Do you know how to say yeast in Italian? How about shortening? Yeah, me neither.
2. Organization Italian grocery stores are not organized like american ones – flour and sugar are not together in the ‘baking’ aisle – sugar is in the ‘sweet’ aisle. Flour, obviously, is in the same aisle as the butter. (Wait, what?)
3. Inexperience I’m not actually a particularly experienced cook. I don’t even really know what yeast or shortening are – so, it makes them harder to describe to ask for help, and harder to identify once I’ve found them.
4. Packaging So, I’ve seen yeast before, and I’ve seen shortening … so I know what the containers look like – turns out they look different in Italy. Who would have guessed?
When you buy fresh vegetables at the grocery store, you select them yourself, put them in a bag, weigh them, press the button for the vegetable you bought, and print out the cost. This isn’t all that complicated … unless you don’t know the name of the vegetable you wish to buy. I actually had to hold up a stalk of celery, and ask a woman what it was called. That was humbling. No really, think about it – what would you be thinking if someone stopped you in a grocery store held up celery and said “What’s this?” (it’s “sedano” – FYI, in case you ever need that information)