Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tomato tester almost ruins my day

Tomato slices.Image via Wikipedia
Costco employees say they can't stop customers from touching fruit.

We needed a few things from Costco Wholesale on Friday, including more wild-caught salmon, after we returned from our $24.07 lunch in Manhattan (see previous post).

We jumped into the car, which was parked near the bus stop, and drove over to the Hackensack store, which is only 1.5 miles away.

Inside, we bought a new, four-extension house phone, looked at digital cameras and picked up a wild-salmon fillet for dinner ($7.99 a pound, compared to $6.99 a pound for artificially colored farmed salmon).

We also needed tomatoes, and lately, we've been eating Sunset-brand, hothouse-grown beefsteak tomatoes from Canada ($5.99 for 5 pounds).

I pushed my cart over to where the open cartons were stacked and saw a middle-aged man in a baseball cap completely absorbed in picking up and squeezing the beefsteaks.

I'm sure he had no idea I was there, but I had to duck around him to the right and pluck a carton in the second row, away from his squeezing hands. 

I pushed my cart to the other side of the island and watched as he seemingly touched every tomato in the box, then moved on to another box. My wife hushed me, but I couldn't contain myself and, in a loud voice, said, "Do you have to touch every tomato?"

He didn't even look up. "I want to make sure they're ripe," he said. Of course, they're not ripe. You have to leave them out a day or so to ripen.

I appealed to an employee, but he said it wasn't his role to say anything. After we checked out, a manager we spoke to said customers can't be blamed for touching the fruit, especially if they lived far away and didn't want to return for a refund.

What are you going to do?

We also picked 10 pounds of Earthbound Farm organic carrots for juicing ($6.99).

The wild-salmon fillet yielded six portions. I prepared them with lemon juice, ground Aleppo pepper and chopped fresh herbs, and baked them for 10 minutes in a preheated 350-degree over for medium.

Reheating a piece requires just under a minute in the microwave.

Food intersection

Two new places have opened up near Queen Anne Road and DeGraw Avenue in Teaneck, the culinary intersection of ethnic eateries and such long-lived restaurants as Classic Quiche and Victoria's.

Peck Peck Chicken at 250 DeGraw (201-530-5858) offers twice-fried, Korean-style  chicken, and if you like it spicy, this is the place to go.

Starfish Seafood & More at 267 DeGraw (201-801-9174) prepares fish, chicken and shrimp with such side dishes as mac and cheese, collard greens, and rice and peas.

They occupy buildings where other ethnic eateries have come and gone. A great Afghan restaurant operated on DeGraw for many years, serving wonderful food in a dining room filled with oriental rugs. 

Korean food samples

I needed a few things for our Korean-style prawn dinner tonight, so I drove to H Mart in Little Ferry.

Bilingual Korean women serve free food samples on the weekends, and I enjoyed pan-fried, mung-bean pancakes, vegetable dumplings, three kinds of noodles in cold or hot broth, a tart red-vinegar drink , fresh mango and papaya, and fruit ices.

For dinner, I picked up stewed tofu in red-pepper sauce ($3.99), seasoned beansprouts ($2.99) and cabbage kimchi ($2.99). 

I also needed scallions to shred and season, and wrap in lettuce with the grilled, butterflied prawns (20 cents a bunch).

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  1. Some people are unreal. Sometimes when I go to Farmers Produce/Eastern Groceries I see people bugging the employees to bring out more produce from the back because they aren't happy with what is already put out. What annoys me about these people is that they are obviously not locals, so they made the trip out to Paterson for one reason, to save money. If they wanted top notch produce they can walk into a place closer to their home and pay the appropriate price for it.

  2. Yes, you're right. They come from great distances to save money -- is it really worth it?

    Then they make pests of themselves or, as at Costco in Hackensack, paw over the fruit as if it's their last meal.

  3. The solution to your problem with tomato testers is quite simple, but you might have to wait until next year's medical exam. You should have asked the doctor at your recent exam for a few pairs of latex gloves they keep in a box to pull out like tissues. Then when you go to Costco and see some miscreant pawing the tomatoes or popping a cherry or grape into their mouth, you can offer said lowlife a pair of latex gloves and suggest he wear them so as not to germinate the vegetables for other shoppers. Of course you could also suggest to Costco management that they put out a box of such latex gloves with a sign, which would no doubt alleviate the concerns of shoppers about who's been pawing their potential purchases.

  4. A great idea.

    From your lips to Costco management. I'll send an e-mail to customer service or, even better, call.

    Thanks again.


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