Nothing tests your reputation as a good or bad cook like preparing a home-cooked holiday meal.
Good food starts with sourcing, and even if you’re a good cook, you can be a lousy shopper and vice versa. The mecca for top ingredients always, but especially around the holidays, is Central Market, and if you’ve shopped there around the holidays, you know it can get crazy. Here are a few tips to reduce shopping stress:
1. Cart selection – now isn’t the time to employ the extra-long “race cart” your kids are begging to ride, nor is it the right time to teach your 4-year-old how to push a shopping cart.
2. There are about 10,000 varieties of edible, non-hallucinogenic mushrooms. Central Market sells about 20 kinds at any given time. Some of them look pretty rad, I know. I love that your Oklahoma kin have never seen so many different mushrooms in real life but, it’s a mushroom display, not an eight-top dining table. Please have your extended family take shifts ogling the mushrooms so I can get the shiitake out of there.
3. If you have memory problems, please write down that eight-digit number for organic shallots, so the queue for the scale isn’t backed up to the fresh cranberry pond.
4. Please tell all family members to keep their hands out of the cranberry pond.
5. The gauntlet of meat and seafood counters is enough to make a person go vegan. This area is as crowded as I-635, but there’s no flyover express lane, so be strategic about where you park your cart so others can get through. And be ready when your number is called.
6. Yes, you should sample that wine. And that one, and that one, and that one. And maybe they should put this sampling station at the front of the store so our senses can be dulled before we jump in here.
7. Pro tip: If you get tired of navigating your cart up and down every aisle, park it in the Asian food aisle because no one is ever there during peak holiday shopping times.
8. The spoons in the bins near bulk spices ARE NOT for taste testing. Do not take it upon yourself to sample 13 kinds of chili powder. And since this area also gets crowded, please let grandma know that, yes, they even have Lemon Pepper, so let’s not take up space looking for it.
9. Bread and cheese samples are just that, samples. Don’t ask the nice lady in the hairnet to make you a grilled cheese. Use tongs, people, and if you’re sick, just proceed to the check-out line.
10. Please tell family members to keep their hands out of the olive bins.
11. Don’t write a check to pay for your groceries.
12. Happy shopping, cooking, eating, and happy holidays!