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Making Grocery

Mom and I made grocery* a couple weeks ago in Trinidad, before I went on a brief vacation to the US (California! the Pacific, whales and redwoods!). It was at a relatively small supermarket near home, but part of a national chain (well, they have 3 or 4) so they’re always well stocked. Of course, given all the news stories that week, and continuing, I was not surprised to see empty shelves where the flour should be. Almost empty; there still remained a hand-lettered sign “ONE PER CUSTOMER”. I had brought across some whole wheat flour from Guyana for the family, since we’d known of this shortage before, and for the moment sister the elder and myself could still get our hands on flour. Actually my suitcase was filled with grocery items…eggless chow mein noodles are frequently exported from Guyana to Trinidad in Chennette’s suitcases.

We picked up some ice cream since Lilandra and I had intentions of making blizzards, and while Mom started the cashier process, I browsed the sweet temptation shelves to find appropriate additions to the blizzards. On a side note, this supermarket tends to have mostly locally produced chocolate and candy bars; it was also the first place I’d ever seen bars from the Caribbean Chocolate Company (but that’s probably because the supermarket is in walking distance from the company). By the time I’d carried my small selection (including a Nuggle and a Catch) to the cashier, she was telling Mom that “Wayne”** would bring “it” down in a minute, and she gave Wayne instructions for finding whatever it was. I was curious because I thought we’d got everything on our list, but part of my mind assumed it was some belated Easter supermarket gift (Mom gets these things from her favourite places all the time). Mom refused to meet my eyes, however, when I looked at her…

By the time we finished paying, and Wayne came back down with a box, the kind used to pack chee-zees or something, I was less convinced. We usually get our chee-zee-fix (and other such fake snacks) from the parlour*** next door in much smaller quantities. But I am naturally discreet, being a lawyer and all, so I held my tongue until Wayne had safely put the box and our other groceries in the trunk, and we were safely ensconced inside the car.

“So, what in the box Mom?”

Mom barely moved her lips and didn’t look my way, as she gleefully muttered “FLOUR”. She was probably giggling by the time we drove around the back of the buildings to get out of the shopping complex, and we were out of sight of people. Apparently when Mom mentioned the lack of flour to the cashier, the cashier leaned over to her and asked “you want some?” and there followed hurried whisperings with the manager and then the cryptic instructions to Wayne. Mom was extra high since it was an entire 10 kg of flour masquerading in a box. She’d only expected the usual retail bag. Woohoo!! Flour. We can bake bread. And make roti. And hoard and revel in our secret transactions.

That’s the most exciting part of all of this of course. Food shortages, particularly of basic items, may give rise to black market trading, and rationing and all these things that I’ve only read about in WWII literature. Isn’t this what we all want? To live like spies, or treat our supermarket cashiers like illicit drug pushers…what exciting times are to come.****

UPDATE: Mom has since been the secret recipient of rice: basmati, jasmine and brown (parboiled); from the same source.


* We “make” grocery in T&T, much like the way it makes hot and cold…French influence on our language.

** Names changed to protect the identities.

*** Common term for a small shop set up in someone’s house, usually to attract school children, and maybe at one time it used to be set up in someone’s “parlour”.

**** Because of my self-imposed restrictions on my blog content, I can’t say all I want to say about the global food crisis, particularly the problems nationally and regionally, but this post from Tea and Cookies (which I found via Rice and Beans: A Belizean in DC) says it so well – what one thinks especially as a FOOD blogger at a time like this.

[I’ve been writing opinions; I am therefore currently enchanted with footnotes]

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15 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. Muggers no longer grab purses, or boxes of KFC and run. They now grab grocery bags hoping for rice and flour so it was a good idea to disguise the loot in a chee-zee box. The muggers will soon wise up tho and people will have to try to be one step ahead 😉

    1. aka_lol on April 28th, 2008 at 8:02 am
  2. Okay, I have obviously had my head buried in work to be aware of what is really happening… is there is shortage of flour and rice in TT?

    2. Cynthia on April 28th, 2008 at 9:25 am
  3. Food shortage is worldwide and moreso “flour and rice”and many things like corn and oats and flour products like pasta …….

    3. trinimom on April 28th, 2008 at 2:48 pm
  4. Can I go by your mom to ‘make’ groceries.. since I don’t have a car and I’m the burro for my purchases my shoulders cannot carry the $200.00 in groceries that I must spend in order to qualify to own rice or flour according to the popular grocer on the EMR… it’s pretty frustrating, but I’m having creative fun in the kitchen – this morning I had cassava oil down for brekkie!!

    4. TamarindBall on April 29th, 2008 at 9:11 am
  5. Hey, mom says if you want a 2kg of rice and a 2kg of flour or even more you can get.
    If you want dad to bring it up tomorrow, she’ll send it for you!

    5. Lilandra on April 29th, 2008 at 4:04 pm
  6. Its pretty silly is you ask me Lilandra, how some supermarkets are hoarding, and all I really want to do is batter my fish before I fry it, ah well thanks for the offer which I humbly accept!! [smile]

    6. TamarindBall on April 29th, 2008 at 4:11 pm
  7. steups
    there I was planning a secret, danger-filled trek into the Caroni Swamp under cover of scarlet ibises and bats, and clouds of mosquitoes to deliver some of the scarce commodity across the bows of boats helmed by masked men…signals and code words and whatnot
    and allyuh just delivering it in broad daylight to public places…

    7. Chennette on April 29th, 2008 at 5:19 pm
  8. nobody said *where*
    who says it’s public???

    and it will still have to be slightly secretive
    TamarindBall and Dad will be in danger until it is safely in TamarindBall’s house. And even then who knows!

    But why trek thru the swamp?

    8. Lilandra on April 29th, 2008 at 6:39 pm
  9. throw people off the trail

    9. Chennette on April 29th, 2008 at 7:55 pm
  10. how u getting from guyana?

    10. Lilandra on April 30th, 2008 at 2:14 am
  11. Can I say the ‘Eagle has landed’… ‘the ship has come in’… ‘the pink dog behind the church bell has barked twice’ – wink wink nudge nudge… [grin] this confirms what I long thought .. I’m sure the best inside trading happens between the hours of 8 and 4 and surely not at dusk under mosquito clouds! Thank you thank you thank you to all involved… from Wayne right down! best wishes, TB

    11. TamarindBall on April 30th, 2008 at 9:22 am
  12. Lilandra – who said where I was or where I would be?

    TB – well, at least you’re happy…

    12. Chennette on April 30th, 2008 at 9:34 am
  13. You are most welcome TB and I would convey your thanks to Wayne and company when I visit soon, God Willing. Cook and enjoy………….

    13. trinimom on May 1st, 2008 at 7:32 pm
  14. Had fried fish and bhaji rice this wekend… God is good! Thanks for spreading the love TriniMom, my mom returns from travels on Tuesday, will let her know about our inside trading involving a chennette, a girl name Lilandra, trinimom, a man named Wayne, bay leaves and brown bags, a meeting in the parkting lot and a sweet cook out! :-)

    14. TamarindBall on May 5th, 2008 at 9:35 am
  15. You are welcome but we must not forget the carrier of this oh so precious cargo all the way from Central to North in the parking lot ……………..

    15. trinimom on May 6th, 2008 at 10:05 pm

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