Even in the midst of a pandemic, the grocery store is still teeming with people. Not even Covid-19 can’t deter people from picking their own produce and buying their own meat. However, even with the recent CDC directive that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear their masks, Central Market still requires them. So the store is filled with masked-up people of all ages; some wearing simple surgical masks, others wearing the F95 masks that were so coveted in the early days of the pandemic.
Coronavirus certainly hasn’t dampened this place’s business; if anything it’s busier than I remember. In the first stages, you were only supposed to go one way down the aisles, but that proved quite unenforceable. Now every corner of the store is filled with shoppers, it seems. And I am one of them, tagged by the family to collect our grocery haul for this week. I wonder how my parents put up with all these people to do this every single weekend.
Today the shopping list seems to go on and on; you never really know how much it takes to feed four adults until you go to the store and look at all the food in your shopping cart. Of course, it all seems to disappear in a matter of days and before you know it you’ll be back at the grocery store.
Produce is up first, since it’s the first thing you see when you enter the store. Peppers, broccoli, spinach, and other green vegetables lie everywhere. Everything you could possibly want in a salad is here, and indeed, this section of the store is filled with young women wearing leggings and expensive Nike sneakers. No doubt they’ll be eating their salads loaded with iron after coming back from their Spin cycle class. I do like vegetables, but any salad I eat has to have a vinegar-based dressing since raw vegetables have almost no flavor.
Some people’s grocery carts are filled with fresh produce, like kale and broccoli, and bottles of filtered mineral water. Others, mostly younger people wearing sharp and expensive clothes, are filled with the ready-made meals at the deli; I suppose cooking is enough of a hassle to justify spending more than you need to on an instant meal.
Central Market is surely the fanciest supermarket I’ve ever been to. Their bakery is surely better than any other grocery store, and their dairy section in particular is full of variety. It truly is the apple of HEB’s eye, even though their parent company still thinks Dallas isn’t good enough for a location.
Next up is the fruit section. My younger brother consumes an unseemly amount of apples, so we always have to buy quite a lot. For some reason, the apples at Central Market cost an obscene amount of money; the last bag my dad bought was 12 dollars in total. Seems way too high for a food that’s so common.
I miss them having samples here. I know why they don’t have them anymore, but I miss drinking the little cups of lemonade and eating the small samples of cookies and bread in the pastry section.
Next up in our quest are the meat counters. Luckily, I don’t have to pick a number and wait with the masses today. The meat I need has already been wrapped and can just be picked up. A good thing too, because I hate waiting in the meat market. It’s always cold and filled with too many impatient people.
Finally, I’m out of the meat market and into the warmer portion of the store that looks more traditional. Even the aisles of groceries here are prettier, more colorful than all the other grocery stores I’ve been to. It seems like every shopper here has their cart filled to the brim with food. No one just pops in to Central Market just to buy a loaf of bread or something they forgot they needed for dinner.
We’re in the dairy section now, which contains the only yogurt brand I like. I always buy four: two chocolate, and two of any other flavor (except for maple or peach). I try not to look at all the creams so I don’t get too tempted to buy them and make something. But of course, the next section is the most tempting.
Now we’re in the bakery section, filled with all the breads, cakes, and cookies you could possibly want. I see one of those Texas sheet cakes with the pecans and my mouth waters. This is one of those times when I really wish that they would bring samples back. The pies here are also very good; I made a pie once and I don’t think it was worth the trouble of making the crust and filling when you could quite honestly buy a better one here. I had better leave before I end up buying one.
The last section of Central Market is the deli section, filled with those process meats that my mom says are so unhealthy. Luckily, I’ve never been a fan of deli meats, although I am quite partial to prosciutto.
As I stand in the checkout line, my feet aching from spending so much time in my rather uncomfortable sneakers, I hope the total for today’s outing doesn’t go over the limit for my poor credit card.