Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping For The Non-Cook

I love food. Just love it. I work for a magazine that's known for its spot-on recipes, which is usually the first thing people ask me about. "Do you eat lemon bars and drink mint juleps from the Test Kitchen ALL DAY LONG?" And the answer is no. Just on random Fridays. 

I do write about food as a travel editor, and am lucky to have learned from people with extraordinary culinary knowledge. But no, I don't cook. Nope, not at all. And yes, I love the cooks who bless me with their talents both at home and on the road. And helping plan a Thanksgiving dinner for ten makes me hyperventilate a bit. 

So I'm going to go ahead and cut to the chase and just reveal that I have a very, very kind and talented friend, a chef, who graciously agreed to cook this dinner for 10. For this I will be forever in his debt. This is a big, big deal. All I had to do was to get the groceries. Easy, right?

And thus begins our journey into a strange and foreign land ... the grocery store. Not for bread and milk but for the big show. 

First, we didn't go to Publix empty handed. Here's mom with one of five pages of the shopping list. (We're using the Southern Living Meat & Three menu from the November issue. I do keep things close to home.) Mom was a trouper in joining me for an epic two-hour journey, especially because her foot is in a boot because of an injury. Ouch.

So, one girl who rarely steps food in a grocery store (me) and one mom whose foot shouldn't be stepping on anything but an ottoman. And I was determined to conquer my inability to navigate a grocery store. It helped having Mom there. 

Mom's list

Not going to lie, I had to take more than a few deep, cleansing breaths as I thumbed through the shoping list. As easy to prepare as the recipes are, as a girl whose grocery shopping generally includes items purchased by college boys (Bagel Bites plain or with pepperoni), trying to figure out where the fresh marjoram was, was ... whoa. Like margarine? No, marjoram. I was also thinking about the work that I needed to finish back at the house to get things ready for company, and the emails I needed to send for work work and just generally in a funk and panic. Happy first day of vacation! 

But I needed to find the marjoram. So I took some deep breaths, and got to it. 

Mom and I divided and conquered. I felt a little inadequate falling over the staff restocking vegetable oil and standing in the middle of the aisle deciphering spices. And that I didn't know where anything is, but really, who knows where kitchen string is? (You can get them to cut a piece for you in the kitchen department). Here's the friendly butcher Earick doing that, right before he said, "Why don't you cook?" Long story, Earick, check ya later! 

Earick teaches me about kitchen string

I texted my chef friend approximately 600 times with questions. "What's a celery rib? Is this a celery rib?" I did not know that celery had ribs. I know now. I also consulted with about six members of the Publix staff, all of whom were patient. Slowly our baskets stared filling up. We started crossing things off the list. And I ended up in the wine aisle, which I can navigate with ease. We all have our talents.

At the end of our session a bagger was kind to take our photo. And yes, we're the first person who ever asked him to take our photo with a grocery cart. It was that kind of triumph. And I got to spend time with Mom. 

Hope that we got everything on our list. If not I'll just improvise with the extra margarine ...