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Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes. I worked as a line cook at a restaurant in college for two years and when I wasn’t flipping burgers or frying up potatoes, I was hanging out with some cooks that had actually gone to culinary school, learning different chopping and cooking techniques. As a result, I got to the point where I was cooking some pretty cool shit by the time I graduated.
But alas, my training came to an end as all things must. I got a job that catered lunches and dinners, and I really only cook for myself on special occasions. Even then, it’s typically one of two things: chicken with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, or a sweet potato hash with peppers, onions, and tomatoes. It’s boring. It’s uninspired. Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t be mad, just disappointed.
And then, on Monday, I had something that I can only describe as a manic episode in the middle of the Kennedy Expressway, documented in this tweet:
For those uninitiated, Mariano’s is a chain grocery store similar to Whole Foods, only they have more of an Italian influence. Solid butcher and deli, consistently fresh veggies, a gelato bar, and a wine bar. It’s not as high brow as Whole Foods, and sometimes that’s a good thing.
Adrenaline pulsed through my veins as I glided down the two-story escalator into the produce section. The carts were split into two sections, one full of the classic big-basket cart, one full of the double deckers. You know I made a beeline for the latter.
No list. No context for what we already had in our pantry or fridge. No regard for other shoppers. I was a damn wild man in there. My cart was full of exotic items, like asparagus and kale.
I pulled a box of mushrooms off the shelf and tossed them on top like money wasn’t a thing. Did I need mushrooms? Of course not. I rarely ever cook, let alone with mushrooms. I don’t even think my roommate likes mushrooms. Do you know how long it’ll take to go through that entire container of mushrooms? So long. There’s no way I’ll make it through the whole thing before they start wilting and get all soggy and nasty. But you know what? I don’t give a fuck. I was feeling it.
With a cart full of veggies, I strode into the personal care section. I remembered from my shower that morning that I was running low on my two-in-one shower gel, and that I’ve been shaving with a tiny 3-ounce bottle of shaving cream and the least expensive razors I could find. I looked at the various two-in-one bottles and realized that I’m a goddamn adult and should be acting like such.
My attention shifted to the separate bottles of shampoo and body wash. Without even thinking about it, I lifted the coolest looking bottles and dropped them in the cart. I couldn’t even tell you what they were now. I think one of them was Old Spice and the other was… American… something. Doesn’t matter. We’re in the big leagues now and can’t let ourselves forget that.
What’s great about Mariano’s is that they keep the alcohol aisles near the cashiers. If you really want to, you can turn a blind eye to it, but it’s always there. Kind of like the guy on the train who is clearly on heroin. Today, I did not want to turn a blind eye to it.
I perused the wine aisles — not for the week ahead of me, but for that night. You can bet your ass I found an $8 Malbec and a $7 Cabernet for my roommate. Okay, it’s not the most luxurious bottle, but this was towards the end of the manic episode when I was realizing that I was going to have to pay for all of this.
Three bags and six rolls of paper towels later, I slid my credit card into the chip reader. I didn’t even look at the final price, only heard from the cashier that I managed to save $8. I lugged the bags back to my car and spent the rest of the trip home thinking about my actions. When I got home, I poured a glass of wine only to have a fly land in it. Here’s hoping it wasn’t an omen for the rest of the week. .