Sunday, November 1, 2015

Grocery Run

All last week I was in Johannesburg for an energy seminar. I learned a lot, met some great people, and explored the city. But mostly I ate. I haven't been away from the miraculous foodscape of the first world for long enough to feel really deprived, but I knew I had to take advantage of what I had while I had it. I ate meltingly tender steak and sushi and microgreen salads. I had ostrich and shrimp and peri-peri chicken. I had an amazing 10-course tasting menu at Cube with dishes called things like "Alien vs. Predator" and "#chefslife". And thanks to the weak rand (currently 13 to the dollar) I ate like a queen and couldn't believe how cheap it all was.

The Haul
And then it was time to go home, but not before I did some grocery shopping. Just a tiny little bit. Okay, I pretty much looted the produce section and the cheese aisle. It's late spring in South Africa so there were all kinds of delicious fruits and vegetables ripe and in season. The cheese situation in Addis is pretty dire. (One point for Conakry - former French colonies can always be counted on for good bread and cheese.)  And then at the airport I scooped up a few more bottles of wine at the duty-free and a dozen beef filets (2 for $10!) and some biltong because I was in South Africa and that's just what one buys there. The zebraskin rugs were also pretty tempting, but my arms were starting to hurt by that point. One of my favorite diplomatic perks is that customs officials aren't allowed to go through our suitcases, which makes it way easier to do international food runs.

With my loot safely home, I spent pretty much all afternoon yesterday blanching mushrooms and trimming asparagus and slicing peaches, placing it all tenderly, reverently, into a ridiculous number of plastic bags, which I will guard in my freezer like a hoard of priceless jewels. I know that, someday in the not-too-distant future, I will really want some raspberries or some broccolini, and on that day I will pull the appropriate packet triumphantly from the freezer and HAVE SOME, and it will be sweet. I get excited about food pretty much all the time, but there's nothing like scarcity to make me really appreciate simple things like gouda or salad greens.

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