If you are from the South, you are probable familiar with Piggly Wiggly grocery stores.
If you are not from the South and, therefore, not familiar with The Pig, this is all you need to know - Whole Foods it ain't.
To initiate my December condo, I decided to ask my local friends Ann and Bill Truex over for "heavy hors d'oeuvers ." I accessed the internet and found several recipes that sounded tasty without having to buy items I would not ever need to use again in the next 30 days and easy to make with the limited utensils in a rental kitchen
Without a car, The Pig is the only grocery within walking distance of about 1.5 miles.
At the Pig
I suspected a dilemma when I walked into the produce section.
"Do you have any fresh basil?" I asked.
"Basil? Basil? Basil?" was the reply as he looked around. "No one ever asks for that."
"Well, then I suppose you don't have any dill or fennel."
"I'm sorry, I don't even have any.... any... Oh, what's that leafy stuff called?"
"Right! I don't even have any parsley!"
Neither did he have any garlic, peaches, or cherry tomatoes.
Undaunted, I did find a cantaloupe and whole tomatoes figuring I could improvise.
On to the meat section..
"Do you have any pancetta?"
"Well, maybe some prosciutto. I could probably use that."
"I don't know what you are asking me for."
I tried to explain about Italian meats that might be like very thinly sliced ham or bacon.
"Do you think you mean hog jowls?" he asked.
I showed him a small package of fat back. "Like this only very thinly sliced."
He went into the meat refrigerator and asked another worker. No, nothing like that.
"Around here, it's wings and pigs feet," he explained.
In the dairy section (because by now you are not surprised there is not a deli section) -
"Goat cheese?!" was the only response to my query.
Eventually, I had half the stockers in the store running around trying to find replacement items for my recipes.
After two hours of shopping, I had 5 bags and $65 worth of appetizer groceries.
Found at The Pig
Notice that the local ABC store does sell vodka imported from Iceland, however.
I must tell you, I am NOT a foodie. This merely illustrates how the average home cook has become accustomed to having basic items that were formerly considered exotic foods.
The staff at The Pig were fantastically friendly trying to find items they could not even picture.
In the meat counter, we did find.....
But Wait..Here Is Something Special
When asked how to serve these, my friend Blake the meatman said, "Buy a steak and then use these to clean your teeth."
When I returned home, I searched the internet for a recipe for the chicken feet. I knew they were popular on dim sum menus.
"Oh, no!" I muttered to myself, "I'm going to have to return to The Pig and try to find replacement ingredients."
Then, "For crying out loud, Paula. We're not actually going to eat these. It's just a joke to startle my friends."
When my friends arrived, all I presented to eat was a bowl of chicken feet!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of their reaction.
By the time I served wings, BBQ sliders with slaw, melon wrapped with packaged ham (not peaches with pancetta), salmon spread (made with packaged salmon, not lox), hummus, olive tapenade (made with canned black, not uncanned green olives), veggies, crackers, chips, brownies, and some toothpicks (not cocktail skewers) tomato bits (not cherry tomatoes), cheddar (not goat) cheese, and cucumber - they forgot about the chicken feet. And frankly, it wasn't half bad.
Also, you might be interested in knowing - if you have a glass top cooking surface that needs to be cleaned, toothpaste from Dollar Tree works almost as good as the expensive stuff in the bottle.