We grab a cart, we enter the grocery store, and a switch in our brain just... flips. We stop thinking and start reaching. In go the same boxes, bottles, and jars we've bought for years. Our favorite produce, tubs of hummus, blocks of cheese, and shapes of pasta. We pile them on, never once asking, Wait, do I even WANT this again?
Maybe the answer's yes, but maybe it's no. We can't tell, because we don't pose the question.
And technology makes it worse. I used to type H-e-r-i-t-a-g-e G-r-a-i-n-s into my smartphone's notepad, pecking each letter individually. I love that cereal, using it as a dumping ground for whatever fruit's in the fridge. Soon, though, the robot in my phone caught on. Now I type H-e-r and it completes the phrase. This stinks. What if, just once, my subconscious wanted herring, or an Hermès scarf?
So the next time you shop, slow down, take a breath, and listen. Do the white onions cry when you reach for the red? Do the peanuts resent your love for cashews?
Open your eyes, people. Each time you grab the olives and capers, you leave the hearts of palm behind.
Recipe for Hearts of Palm Salad with cucumber, tomato, parsley, and lime
Hearts of palm are woefully under-appreciated. Perhaps it's because you don't really know what they are. (They're the tender insides of the cabbage palm tree, sold in cans or jars.) Perhaps it's because you don't know what to do with them. (Try substituting them for olives or capers in cold preparations.) Perhaps it's because you don't know where to find them. (Trader Joe's and other large supermarkets.)
This salad's refreshingly bracing and uncomplicated, and perfect for sticky summer weather. If you feel a need to bulk it up, toss in avocado, corn, or even cooked bulgur.
Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a side
1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
One 14.5 ounce jar hearts of palm, drained, cut crosswise into rounds
Persian or other small cucumbers, or 1/2 English cucumber, cut crosswise into chunky rounds
1 cup mixed variety small tomatoes, halved
Big handful of Italian parsley
In the bottom of a serving bowl, whisk the oil, lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Gently fold in the onion, hearts of palm, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Shower with parsley. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature. The serve, or chill for up to one hour.