I did not think that after thirty-two years of being a human being, of which at least twenty were spent shopping in grocery stores, I could still have my mind blown perusing one of the aisles. But alas, a few weeks ago was that day. I felt like I was just born and entered the grocery store for the first time.
As I meandered through the vegetable section of my neighborhood Pavilions, my eyes bulged out of my head when I spotted what I thought was a moldy olive but in fact was a “fresh almond.” Who knew fresh almonds looked like this in their natural state? Who knew they had a luscious and fuzzy green coat and are huge? Mind blown.
I was tempted to purchase these fresh almonds out of sheer curiosity but had no idea what I would do with them. So many questions were running through my mind making me painfully aware of how ignorant I am. It’s a freaking almond, get it together Kasey! But what do you do with fresh almonds?? Can you eat them as is? Do you peel them? Roast them? Peel them then roast them? How do they turn into the shriveled brown ovals that are comforting and familiar? I was so disconcerted by discovering what fresh almonds looked like and realizing how obtuse I am that I shamefully scuttled away from these fresh almonds as fast as I could. No one needs produce that produces (witty pun alert!) this kind of self-doubt.
My next mind-blowing moment came a few minutes later when I was searching for pumpkin seeds. I couldn’t find them anywhere and had to ask one of the workers for help.
“Ma’am, do you know where I can find the pumpkin seeds?”
“Oh, do you mean pepitas, honey?”
“Uhh, no? I just need the raw pumpkin seeds. Not salted or umm, sweetened, or whatever.”
“Pepitas are raw pumpkin seeds. End of aisle 12.”
Ok, what the hell? Why do they need another name? And a name that in no way explains what the food actually is. I think “pumpkin seeds” is the perfect name for seeds that come from a pumpkin. No need to invent another name. It’s like meeting someone who introduces herself as Jennifer but tells you that you can call her Guadalupe. No Jennifer, I will not call you Guadalupe. How are those two names even marginally related? I can understand a Barbara going by Barbie. But a Jennifer going by Guadalupe? No, just, no. Unless you’re in the witness protection program but then you really shouldn’t have disclosed your real name, Jennifer.
I was so irate I had to google this term. Apparently, pepita “is the Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed.” Why are we complicating this? We don’t need a Spanish culinary term. It’s not even the Spanish word for pumpkin seeds, which is semillas de calabaza. There is no reason that pumpkin seeds need two names. What kind of pompous food is this? They’re not even used that frequently in recipes! I can understand milk going by two names. Milk is a staple. It’s prominently featured on the food pyramid. Pumpkin seeds are lumped into the “Meat/Poultry/Fish/Dry Beans/Eggs & Nuts group (I think. I actually have not a clue what group these snooty seeds are part of). Milk is humble. Milk just goes by milk. Even though it’s displayed in a huge refrigerated section at the back of every grocery store. And here we have pumpkin seeds, stuck in some dusty corner of Aisle 12 but going by two names. Unbelievable.