I went to Whole Foods and Williams Sonoma last night at Derby Street.
Srsly, Derby St is glorious, rivaled now only by Legacy Place in Dedham (which has a Paper Store AND a Paper Source, a WFM, a Loft, and *sigh* Anthropologie). Because Dedham is a bit far of a post-work drive for me, my loyalty to Derby St remains secure...especially since they're putting a Chipotle in there.
Anyways, I picked the perfect time to hit up WFM, 6pm on the Monday before Thanksgiving. By Wednesday morning the parking lot there will be inpenetrable, and the store will be full of three types of people: foodies intent on making some sort of elaborate Martha Stewart-esque stuffing for their free range turkey, people who forgot an essential ingredient and are forced to WFM because Shaw's ran out of cinnamon (me, usually), and the truly desperate, looking for anything pre-made that will sufficiently impress the crowd at Aunt Mabels, or *gulp* their future mother-in-law's. Jamaal is smart and has decided he is brining wine to my grandma's.....but I digress.
So WFM was blissfully empty, and by empty I mean only about a dozen carts were 'trolling the produce section. I walked around and around, trying to decide what kinds of apples would be best for my pies. I wasn't going to use 100% granny smith as one recipe called for, but as a hater of pink lady and gala apples, my choices were limited. Then I had to choose pears. The usual bartlett and danjou were hard as a rock, and yes, I have been vanquished by rock-hard pears before. Because Whole Foods is awesome, I whipped out my iPod and connected to their free wi-fi and googled "pears for a pear pie." Well INTERNETS you FAILED me. Every recipe I found called for "pears." Um specifically please? I gave up after a few websites, as a small, impeccably dressed man kept sighing at me: I was blocking the pomegranates. I finally gave up and bought the ripest pear I could find, a comice pear, which come to find out, does not taste particularly good baked or poached. Crap.
After finishing up at WFM, where I left a mere $36 poorer (holiday specials WHAT?!) I decided to drive on over to Williams Sonoma. The people in that store are decidedly weird - they always always stare as I walk in, as if someone under the age of 45 could not possibly be using anything in their store - but it's the only place around I knew I could get a reliable pastry rolling pin and a fluted pie crust cutter. I picked up what I needed, having to crawl over an irritable employee to get the pie crust cutter, and made my way to the cash register where an urgent, hushed conversation was taking place between the cashier and a customer.
The customer wasa woman my age, maybe a little younger, short with long dark hair. The cashier was around my age also, tall and blond with an effeminate voice. "Ohmahgah I just don't know if we'll have any!" he exclaimed.
The woman said "You have too...come on it's Thanksgiving, you HAVE to have some."
Cashier "No, no I mean we WILL have some, it's just that it's kind of been reserved for weeks and I don't know if I can get you any."
What the hell were they talking about? Pie plates? Turkey roasters?
Woman: "I just don't know what I'm going to do then. Do they have any in Portland? Can you call the Portland Maine store, please??" Her tone was becoming desperate.
Cashier: "well I can see what time they close."
While he was on the phone, another store employee came over and said "We have dried. We always have that, I can sell you dried orange rind."
Woman: "No, no I NEED the fresh!"
This woman was freaking out about orange rind? SERIOUSLY?!
I started to open my mouth, ready to explain that for whatever she was willing to pay for freshly grated orange rind she could buy a microplane and some oranges, and with a little finesse and practice and very little effort, have a pile of her own freshly grated orange rind...
She left in to much of a flurry and huff for me to help her.
I will say though, she certainly entertained me while I was waiting to pay.
I'll be wondering about that lady on Thanksgiving...wondering if she really drove to Portland for her fresh orange rind....wondering what the hell she was making that needed it....wondering if anyone nice took pity on her and told her that she could totally do it herself...