Earlier this week, I found myself at the local Fresh Market. (Disclaimer: I do not often look for myself at the local Fresh Market, because the chances that I would be there are very small.) But I was there for a reason. Let me explain.
(Disclaimer: Unlike most stories about me behaving atypically, this story does not begin with, “So, there was this girl…”.)
I am not a connoisseur of fresh, healthy food, as you can probably tell from my dining habits. But every so often I get a hankering (more than a yen, less than a yearning.) for a band sub. When I was a kid, back when Sleestak ruled the earth, my high school band used to sell submarines one Saturday a month, to raise funds to buy band things like ocarinas and sousaphones (as opposed to banned things like Cuban cigars and carved ivory ocarinas and sousaphones). The band came around the week before and took orders, and the subs were delivered Saturday morning.
Band subs were the greatest sandwiches in the world. Cold cuts and lettuce and tomato and onions and Italian dressing. They arrived just before lunch time, infused with flavor (from the French infuse “to sit in the back of a 1978 AMC
Gremlin since 4AM until the Italian dressing soaked into the bread”).
So the other day I had a hankering for a band sub. Having no high school band handy, I went off in search of ingredients.
The hardest ingredient to find is the tomato. Tomatoes are almost extinct, having been crowded out of their habitat by some kind of crunchy red things that ship well. These tomatoids creep into tomato nests at night and eat their young. The proper, or “squooshy” tomato, survives only in hidden tomato preserves. (Disclaimer: They are not hidden on the shelf behind the raspberry preserves. I looked.)
This is how I wound up at the Fresh Market. As I approached the entrance, I was greeted by this sign above the entrance:
I smiled wistfully (from the German wistful “as much as you can comfortably put in a wist”), knowing that they would in fact be seeing me soon. Then I stepped inside to be seen.
I was immediately surrounded by a dizzying array of foods and food byproducts. But as I entered the produce section, I began to realize that something was awry (more than afoot, less than amiss). Rather than the normal foods they sell in my regular supermarket, Fresh Market is a leading retailer of GMOs (Grammatically Modified Organisms). Here’s what I mean:
USA Conventional Slicer Tomatoes
Slicer tomatoes are strictly regulated under the terms of the Geneva Tomato Convention of 1971, which governs the type of fruits and vegetables which may be thrown at bad vaudeville acts. The convention also outlaws the production and use of nuclear and biological tomato slicers.
Chile Conventional Lemons
The Chileans take their fruits and fruit drinks very seriously, and have no patience for unconventional fruits like Lefty Lemon (at top, right, with Jolly Olly Orange. Goofy Grape, Choo Choo Cherry, Freckle-face Strawberry, and Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry).
Mexico Conventional Avocados
Mexico’s National Avocado Party (Fiesta Avocado Nacional) held its nominating convention in Puerta Vallarta in 2012. The delegates are now for sale.
Mexico Conventional Keitt Mango
People talk a lot about “organic” produce. Produce, being plant matter of some kind, is all “organic”. Mangoes are no exception. A conventional mango is chock full o’ carbon compounds. Keitt mangoes are particularly rich in mangonese.
Back in the Victorian era, tomatoes were prized as objet-d’art, and passed down through the generations, as seen in this dramatic re-enactment of an actual reading of a will from 1906.
Executor: And to my loving cat Lady Fuzzlepot, who brought me hours of joy by knocking things off of shelves and throwing up on the carpet, I leave my remaining two Faberge tomatoes, that she may spend hours of fun knocking them off the shelf, like she did with the rest of my collection. I also leave her my shelf and carpet.
Cotton Candy Grapes Are Here!
I have attempted every possible parsing of this sign and none are particularly satisfying. Through the magic of conjunctions and punctuation, I rank them below in increasing order of likelihood:
- Cotton Candy Grapes (0%) – No amount of biology, chemistry, or physics is going to fuse spun sugar and grapes into one thing. Just…no.
- Cotton and Candy Grapes (10%) – I’ve never heard of candy grapes, and it seems an odd thing to bundle with cotton.
- Cotton, Candy, and Grapes (30%) – We had one of these next to the Bed, Bath and Beyond at the mall. It’s possible they were bought out by Fresh Market.
- Cotton Candy and Grapes (60%) – They’re both sweet. They’re both foods. And they appeal to, respectively, bad mothers and good mothers. I’m going with this.
Here’s the problem. Look closely at the picture. It says “COTTON CANDY GRAPES are here!” As in here. The seafood department. Right behind the Seafood Salad Bar, where (I believe) they sell endive and broccoli florets to crustaceans and flounder. I looked. No grapes, no cotton, no candy. Just fish and fish byproducts.
I must commend the Fresh Market for this elaborate practical joke. Now I understand why they were so glad to see me. This must have cost them a fortune.
Editor’s Note: The unconventional fruit on the right is Loudmouth Lime. This is Lefty Lemon:
We regret the error.