Shopping Safari


Do you feel that doing your grocery shopping is a mundane task?  If so, the problem may be YOU.  How is that?  Well, you need to broaden your horizons because you are in a rut.  According to industry research, the typical grocery store stocks about 35,000 products, but the average shopper uses only approximately 260.  That’s a lot of untried products left off your grocery list.

As a result of this thought-provoking information, I decided to dip my big toe into the water of never before purchased grocery stock.  I challenged myself to locate, buy and sample three new (to me) products on my next excursion to the grocery store.  When I took the time to actually look at all the stuff on the shelves, I realized that there really are lots of things in grocery world with which I am not acquainted. Therefore, it was not very difficult to bag some exotic edibles on my shopping safari.

My first purchase was fairly tame and was located on the aisle with canned fruits.  It was Sunsweet dried mangoes.  This product was doubly exotic in that it involves a fruit I rarely eat and one that I have never tried in dried form.  I’ll admit, a dried piece of mango is nothing that would immediately catch your eye and captivate your attention.  But pop it into your mouth.  Oh my!  A taste sensation.

Mango package

This particular product I purchased was made from mangoes grown in the Philippines, a country which has elevated the mango to the status of the national fruit.  Mangoes are native to South Asia, so it is probably not as familiar a fruit to Americans as are apples and oranges which are actually grown here in this country.  India is the greatest producer of mangoes followed by China, Thailand and indonesia, meaning this fruit has to travel quite a ways to get to my table in the U.S. from where it is typically grown.

Mango piece

My second purchase was a bit more daring and was located on the candy aisle–dark chocolate with acai and blueberries.  OK, I recognize two out of three ingredients in that description–dark chocolate and blueberries.  But what’s acai and how do you even say it?  Actually, the contents of the pouch in which it came looked so appealing that I didn’t even stop to look up the pronunciation or what acai actually is  Mmmm.  So glad it was delish because I would hate to think someone messed up chocolate….

acai chocolate package

The acai berry grows on an acai palm, a tree native to Brazil, Trinidad and northern South America.  Might be good to know about this fruit with the Summer Olympics in Rio next month.  Undeniably, it is easier to eat candy made with this berry than to say the berry’s name.  Despite how the word looks, the “c” is pronounced as an “s” and there are three syllables despite having only 4 letters in the entire word.

acai chocolates

So apparently I was on a roll.  I had picked out two products, fruit and candy, which  resulted in a thumbs up review.  But how about some strange vegetable?  Now that’s more of a challenge.  I was not positive of how to pronounce my third and final selection from the produce department–a jicama.  That’s hee–ca-ma.  I could hold this strange looking vegetable in my hand; it had the appearance of a deformed potato.  According to the label affixed, it was a product of Mexico.  Well, that explains the “j” being pronounced like an “h” a la “jalapeno.”


Jicama is an edible tuberous root of a plant in the bean family.  The plant is native to Mexico.  It was spread by Spaniards to the Philippines and on to China.  The white fleshy inside is crisp and full of dietary fiber.  It is often chopped and added to salads.  Since I like a little crunch in my salad, that is how I tried jicama for the first time–sliced and added as a topping to my dinner salad.  Very tasty!  A thumbs up for this veggie which might be a new addition to the next veggie tray I put together.

Salad jicama

My shopping safari to bag new and exotic game was a big success.  By keeping a sharp eye out, an astute shopper can bag something different but delicious.  What not take the challenge yourself?  Identify a new item on your next shopping trip and bag the exotic edible.  Try it–you just might like it.





No, No, Nanny State

No No

Young children do not like to be told what to do.  What parent hasn’t heard a recalcitrant child spout the words, “You are not the boss of me!”  The tot cannot wait to grow up so she can make her own decisions.  Or will she?  If she grows up to live in a nanny state, then she very well may still have someone telling her what to do–or not to do..

What’s a “nanny state?” Good question.  Sounds political since a state is involved, but I never heard the term even though I have a degree in political science. A “nanny state” is a term of British origin conveying the idea that the government is acting in an overprotective way or a way unduly interfering with personal choice.


An example of a nanny state regulation would be laws which require motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Common sense tells you that if you wear a helmet, you might be better protected from injury in the case of an accident.   If you are old enough to know better, but choose not to follow this safety practice, do we need a governmental nanny to tell us you HAVE to do so?

Motorcycle helmet

At least in the case of helmet laws, the health threat might resolve itself without governmental interference.  Survival of the fittest would result in a decline in the dumb bunny population of people who think they are invincible and can take great risks with harm.  As a result of injury or death, the helmetless motorcycle rider population should be reduced.

Certainly it is a nanny or parent’s job to protect a minor child from harm, but is it the government’s place to protect an adult from the consequences of his own decisions?  Ronald Reagan didn’t think so.  He once said, “”Where government has gone beyond the limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”

No nanny state

Ronald Reagan is no longer with us, but the nanny state is apparently alive and well.  On June 16, 2016, the Philadelphia City Council became the first major American city to pass a soda tax.  Why?  Because we all know that government has nothing better to do than sit around and come up with a good health plan for us.  Who cares about aging infrastructures, crime, mass transportation issues, etc.?  What’s in the adult sippy cup is MUCH more of a priority–NOT.

The City of Brotherly Love is so concerned about it citizenry that it wants to ensure that they make good health choices.  Currently 68% of adult Philadelphians and 41% of minor Philadelphians are obese.  To herd its citizenry along the right health path, the Philadelphia City Council will impose, effective January 1, 1917, a 1.5 cent tax on an ounce of soda. This tax will mean that the cost of a 12 ounce soda will rise 18 cents.  In the City’s defense, it kindly did not ban the sale of soda entirely like NYC did large sugary carbonated beverages. ; Philadelphia citizens have the option to continue to drink the unhealthy beverage–if they can afford it.


Do bureaucrats really know better how to manage our health than we do?  It is possible with all the resources at their disposal that bureaucrats may have more comprehensive and up to date information on health issues than Joe Citizen.  So what?  Isn’t the right to make your own personal choices (poor or wise) the whole point of adulthood?

It simply isn’t the government’s place to tell me what I should drink with my meal.  If I want to throw caution to the wind and celebrate the end of a work week by downing a large soda possibly accompanied by large fries and a Big Mac, what business is it of the government’s?  What’s next?  Setting a ceiling on the calorie count of a purchased meal?

big mac meal

Obviously there are limits to the personal choices that can be afforded to citizens.  We can’t all decide to drive whatever speed we desire.  Public safety is one thing, but my personal health is another.  We don’t need a nanny state; we need a government that will let us have it our way (a la  Burger King) in certain matters of personal choice.  If I indulge in too many calorie laden drinks and can no longer fit in my jeans, that’s on me–literally and figuratively.  I will be the one to suffer the consequences, as well I should.

decision your

A balance has to be struck between the public good and personal choice.  The boundary between the two, the point at which the government should not overstep is blurry.  Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the nanny state needs to keep its fingers out of my pie or anything else on my plate or in my cup.  No, no, nanny state!  Back off!






Playing With Your Food

The movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", written and directed by Steven Spielberg. Seen here, Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary mesmerized by the shape of mashed potatoes. Initial theatrical release November 16, 1977. Screen capture from the Director's Cut version. © 1977 Columbia Pictures. Credit: © 1977 Coulmbia Pictures / Flickr / Courtesy Pikturz. Image intended only for use to help promote the film, in an editorial, non-commercial context.

As a child, playing with your food is verboten.  Why?  Because every savvy parent knows that a child playing with the food on his plate is merely trying to delay, or perhaps totally avoid, eating it.  Vegetables are thus a  prime food to be played with by a child at dinner time.

But when adults play with food, the connotation is totally different.  It is creative and thought-provoking when a grown up pushes food around his plate or effects a different take on how the food should be presented.  Consider Richard Dreyfuss’ character in “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.”  Mounding mashed potatoes on his dinner plate allowed him to figure out something very important.  Who knew that sculpting spuds could help unlock mysteries of the universe?

I don’t recall playing with my food as a child.  Of course, that was a few years ago, so my memory may be faulty.  Nevertheless, I have clear memories of the fun time I have had playing with food in as an adult.  In fact, I like to document my efforts to do something different with food items.  Take a peek at the pictures on my cell phone and you will see what I mean.

Summer is upon us.  As a resident of Florida’s Emerald Coast, I have a recent picture of a favorite outdoor activity in my area–boating.  But in my case, the picture was taken closer to my kitchen sink than to any local body of water.  I give you deviled egg boats which sailed their way into my heart and also into my stomach.

boat eggs

Vegetables and I have a good relationship.  Pictures of my plant friends can also be found on my phone.  I like veggies; they are fun to play with as well as good for me.  Perhaps children would like veggies more, and play with them less on their plate, if the veggies were shaped differently–in recognizable and fun forms.  How about a pumpkin carrot?

Pumpkin carrots

Or a cucumber whale?

Cucumber Whale

Now that I am an empty nester and a grandmother, I apparently feel the need to be creative with eggs.  I may not be producing more children, but I can produce some very cute egg dishes.  Pictures of them, in addition to pictures of my grands, are on my phone. My grandson Liam loved my chick deviled eggs.

Chck Deviled Eggs

How chic!

The male of our species may not go for cutesy though.  Perhaps he could relate better to something creepy.  Spider deviled eggs coming right up!

Spider deviled eggs

Had to photo document this Halloween treat made for my elderly father-in-law who gave them a thumbs up.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Something nutritious and uplifting can set the tone for a positive day.  You can’t help but smile at a breakfast plate of omelet bites and grits smiling up at you.  I asked my plate to say “Cheese” so I could capture my morning meal in a picture.

Breakfast smile

Fruit and cereal get a reprieve from a cereal bowl and go international with banana sushi.  This treat is  made from bananas covered with peanut butter, rolled in Rice Krispies and sliced in rounds.  You can whip this delight up in a SNAP; the air will CRACKLE with excitement and your family’s eyes will POP at this simple sushi. Best of all, the only thing raw in it is a banana.  What’s better than a good picture of this food I made?  A picture of my grandson Liam enjoying my creation.

Banana sushi

Want to make sure that your first meal of the day wakes you up?  It will be an eye-opener to spy some spider doughnuts on your breakfast plate.  Make sure that the spiders aren’t moving–unless it is into your mouth and down into your tummy. I think this picture shows my breakfast looking back at me!

Spider donut

And if you think your house is a zoo, why not whip up some animals for feeding time?  Hungry as a bear?  Now you can eat one!  I shot this bear with my cell phone before it got eaten by a hungry grandchild.

Bear toast

Why just decorate your house for the holidays?  Go all out and add some cheese reindeer to brighten up your Christmas plate.  But you didn’t know reindeer could say “Cheese” for a picture.  See?

Reindeer cheese wedges

It appears that I have become addicted to my food presentation.  I am constantly looking for cool new ways to serve what I eat.  After seeing mushrooms in my yard, I scoured Pinterest and found how to make “mushrooms” from hard boiled eggs, plum tomatoes and some mayo.  Can’t wait to try making these fake fungi and to capture the creation in a picture to savor after said creation has been eaten.

Will this obsession with playing with my food ever end?  Probably not.  And why should it?  It is a great way to satisfy my creative urges.  Unlike painters, those of us who play with our food can eat our art supplies.  And I can hone my photography skills in capturing the fruits (or vegetables) of my kitchen artistry.  Stay tuned for more cell phone pictures of fun with my food!