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Getting something weirdly good at the supermarket


Fat Guy
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In 99% of instances, we can be sure that the products we purchase at the supermarket will not be the best of their kind -- not even close. But once in awhile, I'll buy some seemingly generic, commoditized, bulk product at the supermarket and it will be amazing.

For example, the other day I bought some onions on sale, something like two bags for $3. I imagine one of the world's greatest onion farmers sold his crop to a bulk processor, who mixed them in with the rest of the stream of that commodity, and they wound up in my crummy neighborhood supermarket. These onions were so good, I've never had better ones -- not at the fanciest restaurants in the world. They were better than any Vidalias I've had. Just amazing.

The incident reminded me that this has happened a couple of times before. You never know what you're going to get that's going to be bizarrely good. It could be some sort of fruit -- rare, but it has happened to me. Or it could be a piece of beef -- that's actually happened to me a few times with supermarket beef. Never with fish, though. Not yet for me, at least.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Herbs. Wonderful aromatic herbs. Fresh. And in big bunches. This is a constant feature of my otherwise lousy supermarket, along with the more typical ice-crystally ice cream and leaking milk containers.

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I bought cherry tomatoes at an enormous supermarket in Toronto once, and feeling peckish on the streetcar home I popped one in my mouth and just about had the foodgasm. In my memory I could actually taste the sun. Hasn't happened since.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Dave, the World's Best One-Eyed Left-Handed Former Rodeo Bull Riding Butcher at my now defunct local market used to tip me off whenever he had an exceptional piece of beef come through. In fact, usually he and his wife Rose, who worked at the check-out, had tried it the night before. :biggrin:

I'd reciprocate with a nice gift at Christmas, and every summer when Dave took a week off to do "a little work around the house" I'd have a friend of mine who drove a beer truck deliver a case right to his house. :wink:

SB (misses Dave ... and the little market :sad: )

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For me it was artichokes, just a couple of weeks ago at the local market. They were the biggest I've ever seen--almost the size of a volleyball--and 2/$5.00. I figured they'd be tough and have only a little of the edible part on each leaf, but the size would mean there would still be enough to eat. They turned out to be tender and meaty and exquisitely tasty. What a feast!

MaryMc

Seattle, WA

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I have recently been lucky enough to get Prime Organic Porterhouse steaks at bargain price. Shoppers don't seem to buy the organic meat as it is usually about 25% dearer. Now every time I go to my supermarket I look for the reduced priced items whose use by date is nearing. Get it home as quickly as possible rebag it and throw into the freezer or use straight away. :cool:

Edited : - Spelling

Edited by Taubear (log)

Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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For me, it was Honeycrisp apples at the local Giant. Having researched local farms and suppliers in late summer, I had hopes that I'd be able to procure a few by November. I'd temporarily forgotten the quest for the hard-to-find apple when I stepped into the local supermarket one day for a few basics and glanced at the produce: dozens of large, beautiful Honeycrisp apples for $2.99/lb.

For nearly two weeks I returned to the store twice or more weekly, furtively gathering all I could until the next fix. Then, one day, they were gone - replaced with small, mealy Empires and a few bruised McIntoshes.

I've been missing them ever since. Never got around to the pick-your-own farm - by the time it occurred to me again, the season was over.

David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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The local IGA supermarket, God love 'em, always has perfectly ripe Haas avocados. And sometimes in the summer they set up a barbecue out front, which does nice work on a piece of salmon.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I don't know if this counts 'cause, strictly speaking it wasn't at a supermarket. But it's what I thought of when reading these entries, so here goes.....

One year I was grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and I was having trouble finding one of our family's 'must have's'-- sweet mixed pickles. Out of desperation I picked up a jar of some never-heard-of-it brand (Bell-View) at Phar-Mor of all places-- the now-defunct drugstore chain. They were great! Very tasty, snappy pickle juice, and the veggies were crunchy and tasty! So I also tried Bell-View gherkins-- also good!

After I couldn't find Bell-View pickles around I started trying other store or 'off-brand' pickles. I have found them to be consistently better than the national brands. The national brands seem to be kind of mushy with a blah flavor. Other sweet pickles that I've found and like are White Rose, and BJ's. Please note these opinions are primarily for sweet gherkins and mixed pickles. Oh, and you can order Bell-View from their website, BTW, (www.bellview.com) but you have to get a full case..... Anyone in the Philadelphia area want to split a case of sweet mixed pickles? :rolleyes:

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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