Part 7: Sahadi's and Young Fruit

 Yesterday I went to Sahadi's Specialty and Fine Foods for the first time (187 Atlantic Ave, btwn Clinton St. and Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201), and it was amazing.

Lebanese black olives were, I think $3.25 per pound. I bought $2.41 worth. Brie was on sale for 3.95 a pound. I bought myself a large wedge of it for $2.45. Hummus was $3.00 a pound. I bought $4.15 worth. And, lastly, I purchased a package of six pita pockets for 75 cents. All of these things were delicious. The hummus was both fantastic and significantly cheaper than even the crappiest hummus tends to be. The brie was excellent too, and I don't think I've ever even seen brie at that price. I recently bought some brie that cost about twice as much and it sucked. The olives and the pita were also very good. Everything together cost less than 10 dollars. Next time I go back I will have to spend more. I am so happy that I now know about this place. I am also lucky enough to have a guitar student a few blocks from Sahadi's on Wednesday afternoons, so in the future, I will stop there on my way home. 

As I returned from buying my hummus, I stopped at Young Fruit, the fruit store near my house, and bought two apples, a tomato, and a bag of carrots, all for $1.33. This is my favorite place to buy fruit in Greenpoint, not only because it is the one closest to me, and in general the cheapest, but also because I am constantly amazed by how quickly they are able to calculate how much I owe them. It seems to me that it usually takes about a second or two at the most for them to do this. One example of the way in which they are able to save time took place yesterday when I was buying my fruit. The man behind the counter grabbed both of my apples and my tomato and put them on the scale all at the same time. I thought this was strange at first, especially because I had not one kind of apple, but two. Strange, that is, until I remembered that all three of the fruits I had picked up cost 79 cents a pound. How did he figure that out so quickly? There were other kinds of apples and tomatoes out front that cost more. And a few that cost less. How can a man look at three fruits like that, and instantly know that they're all the same price? It boggles the mind to think about it. Anyway, in under two seconds, the man grabbed all three of my fruits, weighed them, looked at my 50 cent bag of carrots and said "$1.33."

$1.33 is a price that makes me happy for a number of reasons. The obvious reason of course is that it is a low price. To have three pieces of fruit and a bag of carrots at that price means that I have acquired a large amount of pleasure at a very small cost. But it makes me happy for another reason as well. It means that I am getting two quarters in change. Quarters are extremely valuable to me. This is because I need them to do laundry. We have laundry machines in the basement of our building, and it is always irritating when I have to leave the building to go to a change machine at a laundromat just so I can come back and use the washing machines in the basement. For this reason, my laundry schedule is not based on when I need to do laundry, but instead on when I have enough quarters to do it. I have needed to do laundry for a week or two, but only now am I getting around to doing it.

Another thing that's good about $1.33 is that in addition to the two quarters I can expect to get back, I also should get at least 17 cents in pennies, nickels, and dimes. These coins, although not as wonderful as quarters, also have their benefits. My favorite thing about them is that they add up, and just when you think you're broke and decide to count out your change, you realize you have $20 in dimes. I often deposit change at the same time as cash and checks, and when I do this, it tends to confuse the bank tellers. They count my money, and wonder why there's five dollars less than my deposit slip says. They look around confusedly for a period of time longer than it takes the Young Fruit dealers to ring me up, and then they see that I have also slid a 5 dollar roll of dimes through their window. It always takes them a surprisingly large amount of time to figure out how to pick up the roll of dimes. Their hands don't seem to be used to it. They can't quite seem to get their fingers to span from one side of the roll to the other. It's like watching a pig try to pick up a remote control. I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person who deposits coins. Back in the old days, when I made most of my money playing music in the subway for tips, I'd regularly walk into the bank with $50 in change. I think they recognized me as I walked through the door, and each teller hoped one of the others would be the one to take care of me. That was the impression I had, at least. But I'm starting to get off topic here.

The main point I'd like to get across is that Sahadi's is currently my favorite grocery store I've been to in New York City. I thought about the place a lot as I drifted to sleep last night, and will probably do so again tonight. And, in closing, I'd like to point out that it appears that the grocery store I have been referring to as "Key Foods" is actually called "Key Food." Although I'm not sure I should believe their website, since they claim to be located on "McGuinnes" when they are actually located on "McGuinness." It's possible that they are a Pythonesque grocery store that leaves the "S" off of the end of every word. If this is the case, then for them the plural of "Potato" is "Potatoe." They also have "Fruit Loop" and "Apple Jack" on sale this week. Another thing they have on sale is Tribe Hummu. But, seriously, fuck that shit. From now on, with God as my witness, I will either buy my hummus at Sahadi's or make it myself. With exceptions.

Part 6: The Great Caper Caper*

This evening, as I came home from the apartment of my last guitar student of the day, I received a text message from my brother, asking me to pick up some capers for the dinner he was making. This was exciting for me, as I now had an opportunity to get my coffee. I got off the G Train at the Nassau stop and headed toward Met Foods.

Once inside, I went straight for the coffee. And there it was. The last of the 40 oz non-decaf Chock Full o'Nuts coffee tins on sale for $6.99. I had been to Met Foods earlier this week, and they were out of regular. If I had arrived a mere 3 minutes later, they could very well have been out of it again. It was a close call.

Anyway, now I had my coffee, and it was time to get the capers. I idiotically looked through the seeds and spices for several minutes, but all my searching was in vain. Eventually, I decided to do something I rarely do: make a phone call. After talking with my brother for a little while on the phone, he pointed out to me why I couldn't find the capers. They wouldn't be in the spice section, but would instead be in the pickled products section. Mystery solved.

Upon checking out, I got quite a rush from watching the cashier ring up my coffee. The price on the monitor went down instantly from $12.99 to $6.99. Such sweet, sweet pleasure. Sometimes 7 dollars is enough money to buy happiness for a very long time. 

*Note: The word "caper" in this context is usually used to mean "a criminal or illegal act, as a burglary or robbery." I however am using it here in one of its different senses, meaning, "a frivolous, carefree episode or activity." The first "caper" in the title refers, as one might assume, to "a pickled flower bud of the Capparis spinosa plant, used as a pungent condiment in sauces, relishes, and various other dishes."

Part 5: In Which I Make a Complete Fool of Myself

Yesterday I went to Met Foods on Driggs, planning to pick up one of those big 40 oz containers of Chock Full o'Nuts coffee, which were on sale for $6.99. This wasn't a particularly amazing price, as it frequently drops as low as $5.99, but I needed coffee.  However, when I got to Met Foods, I found that the only 40 oz coffee tins they had left were decaf. This was frustrating, but I decided to buy some other things instead. Ravioli was on sale for 99 cents a pound. I don't eat ravioli very often, but figured that this gave me an excuse to have some. I also picked up some imitation crab, a quart of skim milk, a 5-pound bag of sugar, some radishes (they were much bigger than usual, and who can resist big radishes? Not I), and some Ito En Jasmine Tea. Now, I'm not a big fan of jasmine tea, but the Ito En brand was on sale for a pretty cheap price, and they only had two kinds at Met Foods: Regular Green Tea, and Jasmine Tea. Since I already had a nice supply of green tea, and always like to have a variety of different teas at home, I decided to go for the jasmine tea. I hesitated for a second, because the box was the girliest shade of pink imaginable, but in the end the sale price was more important to me than the color of the product. If I had thought a little more about this, I might have felt differently. 

When I got to the checkout line, and put all my items on the conveyer belt, I was mortified to realize that everything I was buying was either pink, or a strange shade of yellow that seemed to complement the pink in a way that screamed out "The buyer of these products is a woman!" There were other feminine color combinations too. The pink and white of the imitation crab. The red redishes with the girly greens. Every color on the conveyer belt seemed to combine in the the most womanly way imaginable. I might as well have been buying a Barbie Play Set and a pack of tampons. And it wasn't only the colors! Skim milk??? I usually buy skim milk because I don't really notice a difference between different kinds of milk unless I'm making chocolate milk, and so I always figure "Well, why not go with the fat free?" But this often puts in me in embarrassing situations like this one. A five-pound bag of sugar? That is such a womanly thing to buy. Men don't have sweet toothes (Sweet teeth?). And the ravioli! My God! Not only were the bags of ravioli colored pink, but they said in big letters "Great source of calcium!" Who needs calcium? I'll tell you who. Post-menopausal women! My roommates have already been calling me an old lady for the past few months, and I just keep continuing to prove them right. 

If only Met Foods wasn't out of coffee! Coffee would have been enough to save me. Coffee is a manly drink. Although then they would have seen the coffee next to the five pounds of sugar and would have said "Oh, so you use five pounds of sugar for every cup of coffee you make?" And I would have said "No!! I drink my coffee black!!" And they would have said "Suuuure you do" but they would have clearly not believed me. 

Luckily, nobody seemed to notice any of this but me. I went home and made myself a cup of jasmine tea. It didn't taste very good. 
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Part 4: A weekend of Small Purchases

I haven't been on any large-scale grocery shopping adventures since you last heard from me, but I have gone on at least one significant small-scale one. 

About a month ago, I learned that the largest producer and distributer of smoked fish on the east coast (Acme Smoked Fish) is located right here in Greenpoint, and that on Fridays from 8 am to 1 pm, it is open to the public, with prices that are generally about half of what you would pay at stores. I finally got around to visiting the place on Friday with my roommate Rob, who was anxious to get his hands on some cheap lox. The trip was successful. Rob got his lox, and I picked up a 2-pound jar of delicious pickled herring for 4 dollars. The herring is usually about $7.99 at other places. I would have bought some other things but I still have a fridge full of eggs to take care of. I do plan to return to Acme Smoked Fish fairly regularly though. It is located at 30 Gem Street in Greenpoint. 

I also picked up two one pound bags of carrots from my local fruit store for 50 cents each, but this purchase wasn't particularly exciting, because it's a purchase I make about once a week. Gotta have my carrots! I also got myself a couple oranges and some kiwi while I was there. 

Yesterday, Rob and my brother pressured me into going with them to Key Foods while they picked up some things. I happened to see some Hershey's Chocolate Milk Mix in the Half-Off Cart, so I bought it. A pound cost me $1.50. And I bought 99 cents worth of starlight mints. 

Another interesting thing happened to me yesterday. With no destination in mind, I was wandering around Greenpoint, and happened to see a Red Hook bound B-61 bus coming my way. I made the split second decision to hop on and see where it took me. Oddly enough, it took me to Red Hook. I hadn't seen much of Red Hook before, so I decided to explore. as I walked toward the water, I came to a grocery store of immense proportions. The signs said the place was called Fairway, and that it was "Like no other market." I stared at it for several minutes, but eventually decided that I was too intimidated by its forbidding aura to enter. I then noticed a strange sensation below my belt that seemed to be telling me that it was time to urinate. I went to Ikea to use their facilities. Finding the bathroom was easy, but it took me a good ten minutes to find my way out. I was picking up some strange vibrations in Red Hook. My overall impression is that it wouldn't be a good place to shop for groceries. 

I think I'm going to buy some coffee this afternoon, as I seem to be out of it. 

Part 3: In Which I Become the Proud Owner of Eight Dozen Eggs

 In the approximately 30 hours since my last entry, I have been to Key Foods not once, not twice, but thrice, and on each occasion have purchased two dozen eggs for 99 cents a dozen. I now have a total of eight dozen eggs. That's 96 eggs. A few moments ago, in fact, I had 98 eggs. Two were left over from earlier purchases. For about 20 minutes I had in my possession exactly 98 eggs. This is officially the most eggs I have ever owned. I have since eaten those two extra eggs to make room for the four full cartoons. They take up a special shelf in the refrigerator. Hopefully my roommates don't mind too much. I have been this proud only a few times in my life.

It hardly seems worth mentioning in light of the eggs, but I have also purchased about $40 worth of other groceries since my last entry. Two loaves of pre-balled whole wheat bread for the freezer. One fresh loaf of bread for my stomach. Some hummus. Some arugula. Some tea, some celery, a tomato. A pint of sour cream for 99 cents. A 42 oz. cylinder of Key Foods brand oatmeal for 3 dollars. Some onion soup mix. Hot sauce. The list goes on. But how can I even think of these things with my refrigerator full of eggs? Life has never seemed so perfect. Eggs. Perhaps I am genetically predisposed to seek out as many eggs as I can. Perhaps my obsession is a mere symptom of my manhood. Perhaps my violent consumption of chicken eggs is meant to fill the void left by my inability to hunt down and fertilize the ever elusive human egg. Perhaps I just love the crunchy shells and creamy centers. Who really knows?

This is enough Key Foods for one week. Tomorrow I will go to Met Foods, where Italian Sausage is currently $1.99 a pound. The winds are changing. It's a new world. 

Part 2: In Which I Return the Pasta I Bought Sunday, and Use My Regained $2.81 to Buy Fruit

Yesterday afternoon, after considering that my reputation as a frugal shopper was at stake, I resolved to make the trek back to Key Foods and return/repurchase my pasta so as to benefit from the 5-for-4-dollars sale. I briefly considered dressing up in my best suit and tie so as not to be thought homeless (I often think about doing this when I return bottles and cans), but I decided against it, and, after double-bagging my five pounds of pasta, I walked out the door towards Key Foods via Sutton, Norman, and McGuinness.

When it came time to confront the cashier, I delivered the lines I had been rehearsing in my head for the past couple of hours with an appropriate blend of confidence and simulated shame: "I accidentally bought 4 boxes of this brand [holds up box of Ronzoni] and 1 of this brand [holds up box of Barilla], but wanted to buy 5 of this brand [holds up box of Ronzoni again], and I was hoping to return them." After a few seconds of ruminative silence, the cashier responded with, "Oh, I see..."

A few more lines were exchanged and then the cashier went off to speak to the manager, and left me to deal with the bitterness of the people behind me in line. I could smell the resentment of strangers fermenting around me, and knew I had to say something so as not to be hated by them. Eventually, I composed the perfect line in my head, and spoke it aloud. "Sorry about this" I said in my quiet, serious voice. "It's okay" said the elderly, respectable-looking Polish man immediately behind me in line, and I knew I was in the clear, because with my one simple line, I had been able to trick them into thinking that I was not in fact a miserly asshole, but was in actuality a poor person, perhaps someone who really needed that $2.81. Now I was quite glad that I had not chosen to wear my best suit and I tie. 

I had originally intended to do more shopping at Key Foods, but it would have been awkward to go back in with my repurchased pasta and I instead decided to just stop by my local fruit store. There I used my $2.81 to buy 5 kiwis for a dollar, a couple of tangerines for 40 cents, and a few pounds of bananas at 29 cents a pound. It was another good day in shopping.

On a side note, I found myself at the Crocodile Lounge later that day and learned the valuable lesson that their advertisement of "a free pizza with every drink" still applies if you buy a 2 dollar ginger ale instead of a beer. The good news is endless. 

Part 1: How I Saved 2 Dollars on Eggs, and Was Swindled out of 3 Dollars on Pasta

 Good news this week at Key Foods! Large Eggs are 99 cents a dozen. As I always do when this is the case, I have resolved to make the journey at least 3 times before the sale is over so I can get the most out of their limit of 2 offers per customer. Long ago, I estimated that 6 dozen eggs is the approximate amount I can reasonably eat before they reach the expiration date. I generally end up going through them faster than that, because I share my eggs with other people, and that is why I try to make the journey at least 3 times, and not exactly three times. 

Today, I made the first of the week's hopefully many adventures to Key Foods, with the intention of spending somewhere between 10 and 15 dollars total. A minimum of $11.98 was necessary, as one is required to spend at least 10 dollars on other groceries to take advantage of the 99 cents per dozen sale. However, going too much over that mark would have been less than desirable, since I will have to spend a minimum of that much at Key Foods at least 3 times this week. The first things I picked up were 5 boxes of pasta, at the sale price of 5 boxes for $4. I also bought peanut butter, two containers of peppercorns, two 8 oz packages of mushrooms (on sale for 99 cents each), and of course the eggs. I reckoned that this put me right in the middle of my range, and proceeded to the checkout counter. After the young man rang me up, I was slightly surprised that the total was $16.94, but I attributed this to an error somewhere in my addition, and I left the store with my groceries and receipt.

When I got out the door, and took a more careful look at the receipt, I was shocked to realize that I had been charged $1.39 for 4 of my boxes of pasta, and $1.25 for the 5th. In a nervous frenzy, I tore through my bags only to discover that one of the boxes of pasta was not Ronzoni (the brand that was on sale), but instead... BARILLA! The Barilla had apparently been placed in an adjacent stack to the different kinds of Ronzoni, and in my excitement over the eggs, I had rushed through the pasta without noticing! Since the pasta deal required a purchase of all 5 boxes, and without the deal they are $1.39 each, this terrible mistake cost me 59 cents for each of the boxes of Ronzoni, plus an additional 45 cents for the box of Barilla, meaning that overall my foolishness cost me $2.81. But I will have my revenge. So, Key Foods, if you know what's good for you, you'll be watching your back when I return for my next two dozen eggs. 

None of this set my happiness back too much though. I am still high on the buzz I got last week from purchasing 10 pounds of potatoes for a total of 2 dollars. I have been making potato pancakes almost every day, and so the quality of my life is quite high. Yesterday I used 4 of the potatoes to make Salmon Cakes. There have also been many potatoes in my recent soups. It's great to be alive.