It was Saturday afternoon at the grocery store and it was time for another taste test.
As we approached, a young woman curled and stretched her fingers inside the plastic glove, unused to the feeling of it. She was standing behind a low table with mini-solo cups holding small squares of cranberry walnut cake. It was Saturday afternoon at the grocery store and it was time for another taste test.
It’s the middle of my favorite season and the heart of holiday time. For me, I know that when Thanksgiving is on the horizon all of the food sellers step up with sampling. By Christmas, it’s a smorgasbord. This is great fun for me and the kids. Even my mom (who normally can only think of all the hands that have reached in before hers-germs!) can be persuaded to taste test occasionally. We don’t need persuading; we watch all ad and promo material to see which store is offering an event next.
The real fun is the opportunity to try new things. I have one picky eater in particular and it’s so much simple to get the thumbs down before I have bought one of every flavor. In addition, it’s an opportunity to try things that we ordinarily wouldn’t. One year, we tasted Happy Cow milk at Rosewood Market. We are now addicts and can’t get enough; we plan on visiting the dairy next summer for a day trip. We have tried BBQ Tofu (no thank you), multitudes of crackers and breads, ham, turkey, desserts, side dishes, you name it.
Some of the samplings are quite lavish; one year we actually had enough food on a plate to make lunch unnecessary-it was a little overwhelming. It worked again though; we will be stopping back at that store our way to Charlotte to take Aunt Deena some Cranberry-Orange Relish with fresh rolls for turkey day.
When they were little, this was an important time to reinforce please and thank you; just because its free doesn’t mean you don’t show appreciation. In addition, there is no need to be grabby, one is plenty. Especially with the popular items like chocolate. Recently, I watched a woman old enough to know better, fill her cup with eggnog, over and over. My daughters saw this too-another learning opportunity.
The best fun is talking to the people. There are ladies sampling to determine if they need to add to their holiday menus. Men sampling because their wives or girlfriends dragged them along to carry stuff. Kids sampling because it’s neat to stand around and eat instead of being told not to touch anything. All have an opinion. The employee’s have all been prepped beforehand to discuss cooking or serving suggestions, as well as to help with planning. Store owners and managers are overseeing everything while taking the time to greet customers. It’s a very community-ish sort of thing. It makes me thing of what it must have been like to shop at outdoor markets or on Main Street in the old days.
The holiday season and the people involved are what make this fun. Try it and see for yourself; its like a quick pick me up, and makes routine shopping a more pleasant experience.. If you see us there, don’t worry. We won’t take more than one.
(Reprinted by Bluefish Digest, Dec 2012)