Over the last week or so, I’ve heard the same commercial on the radio a few times. It goes something like this.
“All supermarket grand openings are the same. The aisles are clean and bright, the associates are cheerful. They bring in the best meat-cutter and cake-decorator in the chain. But then two or three days later it all returns to mediocre. That’s where Publix is different. It’s always mediocre!”
Actually, she said that Publix always stays cheerful and spotless after the grand opening, that the cake-decorators are top notch and the meat-cutter will cut a steak exactly how you like it. I was just pretty sure she was going to say it’s always mediocre, because it always is.
Notice she said “meat-cutter” and not “butcher.” There isn’t even a meat counter. There’s a whole lot of plastic-wrapped meat in styrofoam trays, and a window, but tonight is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone attending that window. Presumably someone had a turkey question.
The labels on the plastic meat packages invariably say “always fresh, never frozen” and I invariably pull out the chicken with ice crystals on it. Tonight? An entire two-pound block of chicken necks frozen together, “never frozen.” Now, I don’t mind them frozen – I’d rather that than warm, certainly! – but don’t lie to me.
How about that seafood counter – it smells like seafood! Bad sign. That means old seafood, past its prime. Not fresh. You shouldn’t be able to smell seafood, and certainly not before you’ve rounded the corner.
And I’ve never taken a good look at those beautifully decorated cakes at the bakery, but I do know that their in-house bread contains enough preservatives to keep it lost in my fridge for three weeks without sprouting mold. Why bother? I could get Wonderbread for half the price.
The only way I can tell what produce is in season is by the quantity, not quality, of what’s sitting on the shelves. Only the apples seasonally improve. The oranges are always boring and bruised. This is Florida! That’s a crying shame! The berries range from mediocre to pathetic. Georgia peaches are rock-hard and mold before they ripen. The tomatoes are always pathetic. I can get fourteen kinds of peppers (most of them old and wrinkled), but I’ve never seen any loose leafy greens other than the lettuces and broccoli rabe, and the occasional collard green. No loose spinach, no escarole, no chard, nothing. The spinach and the collards come pre-packaged.
Almost everything is in plastic. Onions should not be stored in plastic bags, nor potatoes – it traps moisture and causes rotting. There is no reason to shrink-wrap a single potato, nor a single head of broccoli. I’m surprised they don’t shrink-wrap the cabbages.
Only in summer can I buy loose zucchini or asparagus. The rest of the year I can get them shrink-wrapped in a little black tray. Green beans only come shrink-wrapped. Turnips – six in a black tray. I can’t get loose carrots, loose mushrooms, loose celery. Why can’t I get loose celery? I want a single heart of celery – not a two-pound bag of it, not a snack bag pre-washed and pre-cut into 4″ pieces. I don’t like it raw so I’m not going to eat the rest of the two pounds. I don’t use enough to go through it while it’s fresh. I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for pre-packaged snack pieces. Why can’t they just sell it loose? I’ll give them credit, I can now buy loose onions and red potatoes, but I have a feeling that’s only because we’re in the cold months.
If this is their definition of wonderful, I feel bad for them.