Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Pick a Pineapple

Sunday morning I found myself in the produce section of my Stop N Shop staring at some plums when I heard another distressed shopper over my shoulder.

Abacaxi, piña, pineapple"Excuse me! Sir?" she was talking to the kid who was restocking the berries, "How do you pick out a pineapple?" He stopped, walked over to her and mumbled something which led to her responding, "You don't know? Where is your produce man?"

I wondered to myself, Is there a "Produce Man" here? and finally settled on the plums I was taking home with me.

The woman continued to wonder aloud about her pineapple problem - about the color, the skin, about how she wanted to serve it that day. I looked over to her one more time as I was going, forgetting that with my eyesight, I was probably staring, squinting or focusing way too hard to be considered a casual glancer. "Do you know how to pick out a pineapple?"

Pineapple Pressure = Information Overload

Even without my 20/20 vision I was pretty certain she was talking to me. The pressure was now on: Do I know how to pick out a pineapple??

I was flustered, but I started rattling off whatever knowledge I had, " I feel like I heard something once about pulling out the leaves. If the leaves come out easily, then it's good. It sounds ridiculous, but that rings a bell for me-" [I just found two conflicting sources today - one that claims this is a myth, and another that uses this as its sole technique for picking pineapples!]

"But this green is no good, right?"

"No, I don't think so. It should look a little more yellow. You know, more pineapple-y," yep. I said that. "I also think you should be able to smell when it is ready to go. You said you want it for today? Then you need one that smells just right."

We proceeded to smell pineapples and noted that the green ones smelled like nothing and settled on one that smelled really delicious. She said, "Oh yeah, I can smell the difference! I think this is the one. Thank you so much!"

"No problem. I hope it is delicious!" I wanted to share more pineapple information with her. It seemed as though I had unleashed my internal pineapple database and had more to give, like
  • store it upside down until you are ready to cut into it, that will help the sweetness flow to the whole fruit, or
  • go through a step-by-step of what I consider the safe way to cut a pineapple.
But she didn't need any more of my help, so I was just left wondering: Where THE HECK did I learn all of this pineapple stuff??

My 21st Century Produce Man
There are some fruits and vegetables I know all about and others where I am still flustered. Of course, for any long-time readers of mine, it should come as no surprise that Jack Bishop has taught me quite a bit about picking out fresh produce in my favorite cookbook Vegetables Every Day. However, I did have some knowledge before that from my mother (that's where I got the upside down pineapple trick), my grandparents and other family members.

I have never encountered a produce man in any of the supermarkets I have shopped, but I also haven't looked for one either. There is a pretty simple reason for that, too. I tend to carry a produce man around in my pocket all day long! I have an iPhone and I can not tell you how often I refer to it when doing my shopping! I will use it to quickly check out whether or not a certain veggie is actually in season yet, how to pick out the perfect produce and to quickly scan any cool recipes to see if I need to pick up any additional ingredients.

I think it would be great to have an actual human being to talk to about these things, but in the meantime, I am happy I have found something to help me in my times of need!

Do you have a Produce Man that you confer with?
How do you pick out the perfect pineapple?
Where/How did you learn to pick out your produce?
How often do you use the Internet as your kitchen/food reference guide?

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