Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12, 2107--Midcoast: Chinese Food

We ran into good friends Will and Wendy in Hannaford's. First Wendy, then Will as they had split up, each with half the shopping list so they could get the shopping done as quickly as possible. They had house guests who would be arriving soon.

Rona was wanting chocolate sauce for our after-dinner ice cream socials, but we were having no luck finding any.

"You're an ice-cream person," Rona said to Will, "Do you know where we can find toppings?"

"Aisle 9," he said without hesitation, pointing, "There's a special little shelf there just for chocolate sauce and the like." With that he raced off to keep up with Wendy. It appeared that they had set up a little competition to see who would get done first. I assumed they would meet up at a checkout counter.

Sure enough, just as Will said, at the end of aisle 9 there were a couple of racks where they displayed half-a-dozen different chocolate toppings from Hershey's, which the ingredients label indicated included no real chocolate, to Maine-made Death by Chocolate which did, and so we put a jar of that in our shopping basket. "$3.99," Rona said, "I guess real chocolate comes at a price."

I said, "Especially if it's artisanal and has a fancy homemade-sounding name."

On the shelf above I noticed a few jars of wet walnuts.

"As a kid I used to love these," I said. "At the corner candy store along with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry they put them on frappes, which I loved when I had the money to pay for one. I think they were 50 cents. Which back then was a lot of money."

"Do you want some?" Rona asked, "Knock yourself out. It will bring back all sorts of nice memories.

"I see they also have wet pecans. I never knew those kind existed. Maybe . . ."

Rona had already reached for one and put it next to the chocolate sauce in the basket. "But it's crazy," I said, "It's a tiny jar, only five ounces, and the nothing-special Smuckers version costs $2.79 and . . .

"And nothing. You worked hard all your life, we can afford it, enjoy yourself for once."

"I do but . . ."

"But nothing," which ended the discussion. "What else is on our list?"

"We wanted to replace the Chef Boyardee mini raviolis we ate the other night."

"Garbage, it's all garbage," Rona said in spite of her interest in the chocolate sauce.

At the Chef Boyardee display we ran into Wendy. Looking a little frazzled, she asked, "Have you seen Will? I seem to have lost him."

"This happens to us all the time when we separate," Rona said. "What was your plan?"

"When we finished we were supposed to meet at the checkout counter. This one right here, number 12."

"For me," I said, "when we do we always lose each other and I forget where we're supposed to meet. It's sort of like having a senior moment. I feel like I'm wandering around, not knowing where I am or what I'm supposed to do."

"I'm sure this isn't true for you and Will, "Rona added quickly, "I mean a senior moment. I'd just wait here. I'm sure he'll show up. Maybe his half of the shopping list was a little longer or more complicated than yours." Rona is good that way, always looking for ways to make me and others feel better.

"Since this happens to us too," Rona said, "and I'm sure to many other customers, I thought they might have a TV monitor where if couples get separated and can't find each other they'd put that up on the screen and indicate where to meet. Like the Silver Alert system they have in Florida and other places where there are a lot of older people." "Older," not "old" I noticed Rona said.

"Isn't that for people with Alzheimer's," I said, "Who get lost in their cars and forget where they live or how to get home?"

Rona kicked me under the shopping cart. I wasn't helping the situation. Just then Will showed up and they merged what was in their two carts and headed for the checkout line. Before doing that, Will noticed and said, "Chef Boyardee. You eat that?"

"Well, only . . ." I stammered.

"I love Chef Boyardee," he said, "I loved that when I was a kid."

"And look," I said, "They're having a sale. It's only a dollar a can."

"Maybe we should get some," Will gestured over to Wendy who was already on line. She shot him a look and without another word he joined her there.

Alone again, Rona asked, "What else is on our list?"

"I think nothing," I said, "But maybe we should walk up and down the aisle to see what we might find. To be inspired. We're in the International section, maybe we can find some Chinese oyster sauce. We made that scallop strir-fry the other night and I thought a little oyster sauce would have worked with it."

Sure enough there it was, bottles of Dynasty brand oyster sauce. "It's made in China," Rona read. "More garbage. I'll put it back."

"But it's Chinese oyster sauce. Shouldn't it be made in China? You want it to be organicy, made by hand in small batches in Maine? You'd be good with that?"

"I suppose you're right," Rona said, putting the bottle back in our shopping cart.

"And look at that," I said, all excited, "Just the other night when we were eating the Chef Boyardee, reminiscing you remembered liking canned La Choy chop suey."

"Especially the noodles part," Rona said, "That was my first experience with Chinese food."

"And so take a look at this," I said grinning, holding up a package of La Choy chow mein noodles. "I have a brilliant idea?"

"What's that?" I sensed Rona losing patience with me.

"Let's get some shaved steak," I could see her rolling her eyes, "and we'll make a stir fry with veggies like onions, red pepper, snap peas, and mushrooms, all of which we have left over in the house, and to that we'll add the steak and flavor it with oyster sauce." Rona was not yet convinced. "And," I said, "to literally top things off we'll use the La Coy Chinese noodles. Ta da," I gestured, "It will be amazing. Trust me. Like being back on Pierson Street in Brooklyn."

So we got the noodles and three-quarters of a pound of shaved steak. "I wonder how they shave it," Rona whispered.

Later, at the Bristol Library we ran into Wendy and Will again. "Small town Wendy said," smiling.

"So how did your shopping go?" Will asked, "Did you get everything you needed?"

"Well," I said, a little embarrassed to reveal what we bought.

"A lot of garbage," Rona shared. Mike had been a psychotherapist.

"What do you mean?" Wendy asked, looking concerned.

"You know, lot's of ice cream toppings and as you saw Chef Boyardee ravioli."

"And then," I chirped, not feeling as guilty or irresponsible as Rona did. She likes to eat healthy.

Neither Wendy nor Will commented.

"To tell you the truth," Rona now said, "We bought a lot of Chinese food and plan to use it tonight with the shaved streak we also bought. In a stir fry with lots of oyster sauce. Made in China, along with the chow mein noodles. Made in America."

"Sounds amazing," Will said.

"Maybe one night we'll do the same," Wendy added. They both know how to make people feel good.

"I mean it," Will said, "It sounds amazing."

Later that night it was.


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Anonymous Gala Girl said...

Who needs madeleines (as in the Proustian kind) when you have La Choy! ("Makes Chinese Food SWING American" as the old jingle used to go...ah the old racially insensitive borderline racist commercials of yore!) I totally remember my mom making the stuff. And 'Hamburger Helper' which I vastly preferred to La Choy night. We NEVER had Chef Boyardde though or Ragu or any sauce (some call 'gravy) from a jar or can. But no judgements. In my pantry today I stock both cans of Boyardee and jars of sauce (though I do most prefer Raos which Walmart has for a mere $7 a jar) I do so because I'm a grown up and can eat whatever I want--including ice cream for dinner (though I'll take a pass on those wet walnuts from Smuckers....but will take an extra heap of chocolate sauce!( Bon appetit!

June 12, 2017  
Blogger Steven Zwerling said...

I think you'll like the Chef's ravioli. Though they're not friable!!

June 13, 2017  
Anonymous Gala Girl said...

My mom revered you for so many reasons but not the least of which was your fried ravioli recipe which is still in her recipe box on an index card in your handwriting.... xo

June 13, 2017  

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