Tuesday night was guacamole night in the Wolf household, and you can’t make decent guacamole without decent cilantro.
I can deal with a tiny bunch. I can deal with a picked-over bunch. What I can’t deal with is mushy, brown, wet and stinky cilantro. And tonight, that’s what I got at Jewel…er...that’s what I chose NOT to get.
A very kind man with a German accent saw my horror as I held up the last of two bunches of thick and slimy cilantro. He said, “You do know? You can go to da Whole Foods? Day have da good produce.”
I wanted to scream, “Whole Paycheck? Yes, I know they do.” Instead, I put the cilantro back and walked away (and not because he was German. My husband is German, though he doesn’t like German-chocolate cake. Awkward.).
I gave up Tuesday's guacamole dream, and made club sandwiches instead. Life goes on. Bigger fish to fry, yaddah yaddah.
On my way home, without my cilantro, I thought about how many comments I’ve heard from friends about Jewel, things like,
“You seriously shop there?”
“I avoid it at all costs.”
“I can’t find anything there.”
“The lines are always so long.”
Maybe it’s because I live within walking distance. Maybe it’s because, after three children, I’ve memorized the Osco Pharmacy number -- though, to be honest, what ever happened to neighborhood pharmasists? I've been coming to this Osco for over thirteen years: never once has a single pharmasist there said, "Hi, Mrs. Wolf. Another ear infection? Here's your Z-pack." Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Midwest and know Jewel-Osco to be a familiar place to get what I need at a moment’s notice (including carrots, butter, light bulbs, a bottle of wine, Advil, two tomatoes, a bottle of wine or a bunch of cilantro).
Okay. Not everyone loves cilantro. I get that.
Maybe the produce employees at Jewel fall into this category! Maybe they’re cilantro-haters and refuse to put out the fresh, leafy bunches!
The point is, a neighborhood grocery should show a little more pride. When I shop at Jewel, I frequently bag my own groceries because there's usually a shortage of baggers (are they outside gathering the carts?). When I've asked a meat department employee what a good substitute is for flank steak (because they were out of flank steak), the answer was, "You know? I'm not really sure..."
If I want amazing produce, I know to go to Skokie's Marketplace on Oakton or either one of our two Whole Foods. Evanston might not have riverboat casinos (yet!), but we've sure got our own form of "produce gambling": just head to the Jewel-Osco on Chicago Avenue and cross your fingers.
To the Jewel-Osco gods: We appreciate the convenience and longevity of a Midwestern hallmark like Jewel. However – we're not enticed by your dual-Redbox-video offerings or your newfangled touchscreen self-checkout lane. All I want is decent produce. If you offer a produce aisle, offer something more than what my daughter feeds to her rabbit.