I love going to the grocery store when I can linger and menu plan on the fly, based on what's fresh. We're on vacation for a week, and tonight, after lugging our bags into the condo we've rented (overstuffed with books (me), sports equipment (my husband) and photography gear (my son)), the Michigan basketball game was flipped on quickly (a huge treat for them).
I grabbed the keys, promised to bring back "good snacks" and headed off to the closest market, famous for its high quality prepared food and produce section. We're in South Carolina, not Ohio - what would be in season in here? Oh my, what a sensory treat.
I got lured in with cilantro bunches twice as big as the ones at home and equally vibrant watercress (which made tonight's salad spectacularly flavorful). I've open the fridge a half-dozen times to stick my nose deep into the cilantro leaves. I've promised BLTs for lunch tomorrow - we haven't eaten a fresh tomato in months, and I picked up a few bigger than my fist, swollen and dark red, ready to be thickly sliced. And avocados while I'm at it - such a bounty, with some hard, some a day or two from ripeness, then finding a perfect one, just easing under a bit of pressure from my thumb, letting me know I could eat it tonight, maybe sprinkled with a little salt and a squeeze of lime (and some finely chopped cilantro?), an un-mushed riff on guac.
The citrus bins were bursting, so I used my nose and hands to pick thick-skinned blood oranges, sniffing for the sweetest ones. I love cutting up citrus into a big salad, an expected texture and treat next to crunchy cucumbers and peppers. Tomorrow, I'm going to slice and carmelize this entire sweet white onion, low and slow heat for at least an hour, filling the whole house with anticipation (carmelized onion, good gorgonzola cheese on toasted french bread - ooooh, I can't wait).
So many of my grocery runs are stress-filled dashes for a galloon of milk or more often, ingredients for an entire meal that needs to come together in less than an hour, before hungry people become hangry. What a luxury to wander, touch, smell and savor... truly a fabulous start to vacation.