I need to grocery shop for New Year’s Eve and the days that will cruelly follow. Two of the items on my list are a fennel bulb, for a dinner out of the cookbook mom got me for Christmas, and a jar of cornichon, those tiny crunchy pickles Laura loves so much.
At Target, picking up cosmetics Laura ordered online, I decide to see how much of the grocery list can be had. A lot, it turns out. And not just boxes and cans–also potatoes and jalapenos and brussel sprouts. But no fennel or cornichon.
I have several options for acquiring my remaining items between Target and home, ranging from the bougie to the pedestrian (the fun, quirky, option is lining customers up outside, but I’m not up for that–one less option). It happens that along my route the bougie store and the pedestrian store appear right next to one another: you can easily park in the lot of one but shop at the other. With the nasally “cornichon” in my ear, I park in the bougie store’s lot and walk inside. There’s lots here. The lady in the dedicated cheese alcove explains to me that “pecorino” is Italian for “sheep,” so a Pecorino Romano is not the same as a simple Romano. But there are no cornichon in the pickle aisle, only bulbous jars of slouching dill spears. Also, they’re out of fennel.
I place my bougie store bags in the trunk and decide to walk across the parking lot to the pedestrian store. It’s already dark, and the melt off from yesterday’s snowstorm has left a slick of ice on the pavement. If the bougie store didn’t have these items, how likely is the pedestrian one? Still, it’s only two items.
I don’t even take a hand cart with me to the produce section, so I’m able to lift one of several beautifully arrayed fennel bulbs from its perch with one hand and transfer it to the other in a single gesture, without even breaking stride. The cornichon are just as visible. My only delay in pulling a jar from the shelf results from needing to decide on a type–there are three. I didn’t know there was more than one kind of cornichon. I’m in and out in under five minutes.
On the way home I wonder what else my assumptions are making me miss.