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Posts tagged ‘Shopping’

Passover Pizza

Pizza for Pesach

Passover Pizza and Pizza for Pesach © JustHavingFun

Maybe it’s a symptom of me getting old, but I experience a moment of cognitive dissonance when I see “Passover Pizza” on the market shelves. You mean you can’t go 8 days without pizza? Is this a generational thing?

My Mother tells me about what Passover in Philadelphia was like growing up in the waning years of the Depression. They had eggs, fish, matzah, beets, meat, potatoes, nuts, fruit… and more eggs and potatoes. Kosher for Passover milk and dairy products weren’t readily available, and they didn’t have the wealth of prepared foods that we kosher consumers enjoy today whether for year-round or Passover use. Mrs. Hindy Krohn, also a Philadelphia native (and mother of Rabbi Pesach Krohn), describes the situation well in her 1989 memoir The Way It Was: Touching Vignettes About Growing Up Jewish in the Philadelphia of Long Ago.

Passover Pizza

Freezer case with kosher for Passover products. © JustHavingFun

I’m not quite that old but I remember my Bubba Goldie shaping gefilte fish loaves by hand, sliding them out of the oven, and serving them with a perfect circle of cooked carrot. I don’t know where the fish came from. She probably went to a fish man and asked him to grind it. She also had a special basin for the chicken to soak in. She sat in a chair in the breakfast room pulling the pin feathers from the skin before cooking it.

Passover wasn’t a big deal in our family. We were secularized; it was a time for family to gather. I don’t remember the family having Seder dinners, but I sure remember sitting at the big mahogany dining room table with the matching chairs and claw-footed legs.

Bubba Goldie’s chicken soup was the clearest golden broth with little “eyes” of fat on the top, and the matzah balls were light and fluffy. Well, really I can’t remember the matzah balls, but I like to think they were “floaters” because it fits well with the imagery of the golden soup. She’d serve it with a small portion of chicken breast meat. My other grandmother, Bubba Lena, cooked her chicken soup with lots of “junk,” as she called it. Vegetables peeked from a cloudy broth, and chicken chunks were liberally strewn through the bowl. Did she make matzah balls? I can’t remember, but if she did, I bet they were “sinkers.” I inherited her skills in making a fragrant, filling cauldron of soup and I don’t get complaints about my matzah balls.

Welch’s Manischewitz Kosher Concord Grape Juice is kosher for Passover. © Manischewitz

In the 1990s I saw Manischewitz kosher for Passover Quiche Mix (a product fad that didn’t survive); that was when the world changed for me. Now there is Welch’s kosher Grape Juice, too, another world changer. The products keep coming: marshmallows, chocolate chip cookies, mayonnaise, pizza sauce, macaroons (of course), and the list goes on.

I’ll forgo the Passover pizza. I’ll stick with unsalted whipped butter on matzah as the most exotic food choice.  Hooray for eight days of  limited choices!

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Rack Attack

Sometimes I get an urge to buy clothing. Not often, because it’s hard to recover from sticker shock. I keep thinking that I should just buy the fabric and make the little schmatte for a quarter of the cost–not that I do so. It goes against my grain to consider paying $80 for a simple skirt. Ah, but doers do and critics squawk. I dislike the experience of buying clothes so much so I prefer to kvetch instead.

I was at Target and passed the Women’s clothing section. Normally I wouldn’t even stop, my eyes squinting in the distance for Housewares or Pharmacy, but I was in no rush. Every once in a while I open my wallet under that happy fluorescent retail lighting for items other than toilet paper or cough medicine.

Ironic Rack-Mates

Ironic Rack-Mates, © JustHavingFun

[As an aside: For those of you not familiar with female clothes shopping, “Women’s” sizes are also called plus size. This department is usually smallish and tucked behind the more prominent “Misses” (i.e., so-called normal-sized departments). We’re bigger but our retail footprint is smaller. There are more of us than ever before, too. But it doesn’t make clothes shopping a way happier experience for me. More on size acceptance, body-shaming, and “fatshion” at another time.]

Clearance Sign

Clearance” by Damian Gadal, used under CC BY 2.0

I wound my way toward the back: I saw the clearance racks. No new styles for me, no sir. If it’s not on sale, I don’t even look. Thirty percent off! Seventy percent off! Would I strike gold? Is there a bargain waiting for me? I doubted it but expertly strode to my goal.

What I saw struck me in the oddest way.

The white plastic clothing hangers have beautiful, brightly colored tabs on their tops showing the sizes. (Thank you, Target!) That’s an improvement over other stores and a balm for the shopping experience. I know I can ignore all of the green and fuchsia hangers and zero in on the blue or orange ones, say. At this particular Target store the staff is diligent about hanging the correctly sized clothing on their corresponding hangers. Pleasantly tidy racks greeted me instead of them looking like a typhoon raced through the department. (You’ve been there after women shop hard. Things can go flying!) But that was not the case here. No, something more insidious was happening on the racks.

Somebody didn’t think through how the plus-size shopper would be affected seeing size 00 jeggings and skinny pants adjacent to 4XL blouses! Red alert! Ironic rack attack!

Is it just me? Is it that nobody else notices things like this? When did size double zero become a thing? And finally, what the heck are jeggings?

Ramadan Hours

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Ramadan commenced on Thursday, June 18, and will end on Friday, July 17. No grand commercial barrage accompanies Ramadan in the USA quite unlike the December holidays. The only evidence I’ve seen of it was this modest sign posted inside the fabric shop’s window:

Due to Ramadan
Store Hour
Mon – Fri
9.30 AM to 6.30 PM
Sat 10 AM to 6 PM
Sun 11 AM to 5 PM

I was hot. The turbaned shopkeepers greeted me with smiles and went on conversing in an Asian language I didn’t recognize (why I think I’ve an ear for languages is another story). The store was not icily air conditioned, unfortunately for me, but the men didn’t seem bothered. Although it was one of the hottest days we’ve had, they showed no discomfort. I, on the other hand, patted my face with a drooping tissue. When Ramadan occurs in the hottest months of the year, the fast must be a sure sign of devotion!

As a sewist (the latest term for someone who sews), I let my fingers do the looking. Every bolt of fabric, every roll of upholstery begs to be smoothed, pinched, and petted. Some fabrics, sirens like velvet, call out louder. “Hello fingers,” velvet croons. Others desire to be admired under different light conditions. Brocades, silks from China, and dichroic fabrics that appear to change color depending upon the incident light beg to be wiggled. I like to hold my hand under sheer materials, observing  its outline.

The Garment Worker.jpg

The Garment Worker” by Beyond My Ken – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikipedia.

I thought the Garment District would have Jewish shopkeepers, reminiscent of the famous statue of a tailor, “The Garment Worker” by Judith Weller at 555 Seventh Avenue. Not so. The majority of stores I entered on 39th Street were populated by Asian men, many wearing turbans. When did this happen?

I picked up a bolt of 45-inch wide stretch fabric with rainbow metallic threads. Yum. They hovered while I scanned my smartphone, trying to mentally calculate the yardage I’d need for an outfit while trying to Google a half-remembered pattern I sewed 22 years ago. I switched to a 60-inch wide roll of Indian embroidered cotton eyelet.  “Three-and-a-half yards,” I confidently said while not feeling so confident. At least the wider yardage will give me some leeway.

The shopkeeper calmly measured out the fabric while I dreamt of the creations I could make. I haggled for “$5 worth” of a coordinating rayon. I haven’t measured what he assured me was a greater length than I would have gotten for the quoted price per yard.

My purchases in hand, I headed to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for an icy coffee confection. Decaf, but with whipped cream. I followed no Ramadan restrictions and golly, I was hot.

Package Fun

Even toilet paper deliveries can be fun!

Even toilet paper deliveries can be fun!

How many of us shop online? How many rely upon deliveries to stock our pantries? Our busy schedules combined with the difficulty of shlepping purchases on the subway or in a “bubby cart” make remote purchasing an attractive option.

UPS or FedEx hangs a delivery attempt notice in the entrance of our building nearly every day. That makes sense; many work during the day and aren’t home to receive their orders. The Super accepts the delivery, and we collect them when we come home. Easy peasy.

Remember the Sears catalogue? Order, then go to Sears and pick up your purchase. Then came mail order catalogues in the 90’s, now passé. Today’s savvy shopper likely clicks on Amazon.com or any of thousands of sites where s/he can compare items by color, size, price, and availability without moving from the computer. Click to pay, then it magically arrives not long afterward.

So what do we order? Today you can get anything online if you look deep enough. Imported tea, cell phones, diapers, shoes, auto parts, yarn, Tylenol, jewelry, cereal, hair clippers, furniture, shirts & ties, and on and on and on. If you can think of it, it can be ordered and delivered.

l love to rip into my orders. Don’t you? Even though I know they’re coming, every box feels like a present! Even… toilet paper!

I Feel Your Pain

 

A friend told me the following subsequent to reading my post from last week, The ‘Subway Hilton’ will be Full Tonight.

One day recently, after the Xmas shopping rush, his daughter had the occasion to go shopping in town. She set out armed with all of the “Mom paraphernalia,” a full diaper bag and snacks, plus her own handbag. She strapped her bundled up baby in his stroller and set off for the City. She muscled the stroller up to the train platform in Brooklyn. It is not an unusual sight to see young mothers with strollers struggling up these stairs as there are rarely elevators at those stations. I suspect the trip was uneventful.

When they arrived in the City she rolled the stroller off the train amidst the departing travelers. She faced two long flights up. She started wrestling the stroller up the steps. No passerby stopped to help. She reached the first landing panting. Suddenly she saw motion above, someone jumping over the turnstile. “Here, let me help,” he said extending his hand. He took the foot bar and made light work of carrying the stroller up to the main floor. They passed through the exit gate and she thanked him profoundly. “I appreciate your help. I couldn’t have done it as easily without you,” she said.

“Glad to help,” he replied. “You get to feel someone else’s pain when you’ve been there yourself.” She watched his disheveled form walk away and settle in the corner near the gate amidst some jumbled bags and crates. The man, she realized, was one of the denizens of the subway, an underground resident, willing to lend a hand when most would not.

One can experience kindness anywhere and everywhere.

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