Monday, August 07, 2006

Adventures in Curry

On Saturday night I wanted to make this “quick and easy!” curry recipe that I’d seen in the food section of the Washington Post. The “quick and easy” part involves using a jar of simmering sauce instead of making it from scratch. And having admired many jars of exotic-looking sauces in the past, I thought this was the perfect time to shoot the bird at my prideful need to cook everything from scratch and just be QUICK and easy.

Plus, the less time I spend saucing, the more time I can spend getting sauced.

(I know. You’re all about to suggest that I find a 12-step meeting like, tonight, aren’t you?)

(Rest assured—there is no problem here.)

(OMG! Total denial!)

So anyway, M and I head to my favorite grocery store and start tossing the ingredients into the basket.

Potatoes: Check.

Shrimp: Check. (on sale! More money for wine!)

Sense of humor: Check.

Chickpeas, Basmati rice, and peas: Yup.

Wine: A couple of cases ought to do it.

Simmering sauce: Nowhere to be found.

Nooooooowheeeeeere. And I know, because I spent 20 minutes looking.

I have this thing about asking for help in the grocery store.

If a pleasant-looking employee happens to pass by, I’ll ask. But I won't go to the service desk. I CANNOT DO IT. I once nearly perished in the baking aisle because I wouldn’t ask anyone where the espresso powder was, so I’m definitely NOT about to ask where the curry sauce is. Because duh! It should be right down here, in the International Foods section! There’s plum sauce and duck sauce, enchilada sauce, hot sauce, and gourmet alfredo.

But no curry.

“Why don’t they have a directory of store items?” I whine to M. “Preferably offered both alphabetically and by food type?”

“Um, right.” M nods. “You work on that idea while I go to the service desk.”

“They could even have a photo directory of the produce!”

“Great!” M calls, speed-walking away from me.

“With scratch-n-sniff for the herbs!”

Within thirty seconds, M has the answer. The store does not carry jarred curry sauce.

“Well!” I huff. “This seems very discriminatory!”

“Against who?”

“People who want to make quick and easy curry!”

M offers to accompany me to a second grocery store, but I refuse. See, I also have this thing about making extra stops during an outing. If the store lacks a single needed ingredient, I'd rather change my entire menu than trek to another store.

"I’ll make my own sauce!” I announce. “Let’s buy this stuff and get out of here!”

Of course, once we get home I realize that I don’t have the ingredients I need to make curry sauce. But will I go to the store again?


One hour later I have concocted a sauce from diced onion, coconut milk, vegetable broth, ketchup, curry powder, coriander, green chiles, hot sauce, and lemon juice. I think I also added some freshly-ground nutmeg with my favorite new toy. I’ve been putting nutmeg in everything lately.

It actually turned out pretty well, although M and I both blanched a bit as I added the ketchup to the saucepan.

Two hours later at 9:30 p.m., dinner is ready.

So much for quick and easy. (But hey-- ketchup! For the good times.)

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Blogger Bearette24 said...

i think whole foods has a ready-made curry sauce...

3:01 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

whole foods? Yes
Trader Joe's? Yes

seek and ye shall find. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I love grocery shopping in a really freaky way.

3:31 PM  
Blogger wharman said...

Fantastic post. You are a true librarian!

3:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Nothing wrong with a glass of wine or five at the end of the day. Or earlier even. Like at breakfast.

And I understand your frustration. My local grocer keeps the curry in two different aisles and in one of those aisles, in two different places. Oh, and none of the places are intuitive, like in the international foods section. Nope. Some of it is with the jams. Some is in the gourmet tinned foods section, and some is by the honey. Grrrr.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I should have gone to Whole Foods!

*flogs self*

What really chapped my hide was the fact that I'd just been in a wonderful store on Friday that had ten varieties of ready-made curry sauce. And I didn't buy any.

*flogs self more mightily*

4:32 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Heather and Bearette, I will consult you both before attempting any further grocery shopping.

Candied figs: GO!

4:33 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

Hmm, I've never bought those ;) I think whole foods is a good bet for just about anything, though.

7:19 PM  
Blogger kj said...

i agree with whole foods and trader joes being THE place to find sauces and most everything else.

the good part of this story, liz, is that you wrote and shared it. your narratives are so funny and so good!


10:37 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

The Trader Joe's jarred curry sauce is bland.

I made curry tonight for dinner and I hadn't even read your post yet.

Great minds think alike.

11:03 PM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

I want "Whole Foods" in Japan...NOW :)

8:30 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Thanks, kj. :)

Carolyn- indeed!

VK- Whole Foods is a bit expensive for me for every day shopping, but they have a great selection of tofu and other vegetarian goods.

And wine! Grapes are meat-free!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

365 brand is actually cheap...compared to other ny grocery stores, anyway...but the produce can be expensive. i get my fruit from the fruit man instead (he stands on 23rd street with a pushcart).

3:18 PM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

Well everything is expensive in Japan I doubt it would be that much different. Maybe it's like New York in that respect?!

12:58 PM  

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