I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of stuff to make dinner. The centerpiece of the meal was going to be a steak topped with sautéed mushrooms. I didn’t go out thinking, steak, mushrooms, but while I was shopping, I saw this package of mixed fungi, names like shitake and hen of the woods printed on the label, I thought, OK, those look cool, how can I incorporate them into a meal? And it kind of just took off around that thought process.
And then when I got home, I started taking care of all of everything that didn’t need to be cooked right away. I boiled some small potatoes, blanched the vegetables, stuff like that. And then while I set my cast iron skillet over the burner to get nice and hot, I wanted to take care of those mushrooms.
Only, I opened up the packaging and immediately I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. A really bad smell hit me in the face, and I automatically recoiled. But not wanting to deal with the reality of the situation, I tried to think of ways in which what I was perceiving might not have been as bad I was making it out to be.
Maybe these are just funny smelling mushrooms, I thought, and brought the package a little closer to my face. Nope, they smelled like fish, like rotten fish. And then I picked through them with my fingers. With an absence of any visible mold, I tried to get myself to think that, maybe it’s just the packaging, maybe this will all correct itself during the cooking process.
But feeling them in my hands, they were slimy, like oozy and wet, in a way that mushrooms never are. I got pissed. I knew I shouldn’t have fallen for such a stupid grocery store trick. Usually if I want mushrooms, I always just pick them loose out of this giant mushroom container. They’re always dry to the touch, not brittle or anything, but definitely not like these gross mushrooms were, covered in a funky slick.
I never buy vegetables that come preselected and wrapped. I don’t know why I changed my behavior this time around. And that was it, it was done, I’d exhausted all sort of justification that may have tricked me into thinking that there was some way to still make use of those mushrooms.
They were like six bucks. It’s not like those six dollars are going to break the bank, but it just sucks because, the best part about going to the grocery store and making your own food is calculating how much your dinner winds up costing, noticing that it’s significantly cheaper than going out to a restaurant.
But not when you’re just throwing money in the garbage, six dollars at a time. I briefly considered going back and getting a refund. But I don’t have a car, I live in the city, and so I’d have to carry this open package of rotting mushrooms seven blocks down, all while I’ve got most of the dinner ready to go. I guess I could just wait until after we eat, but then what am I supposed to do, save them? Keep them out? They stunk.
No, not at all worth the six dollars. It sucks, but I’ll never see that money again. You buy bad groceries, it really does feel like you just got ripped off. Because you did. I remember one time I bought a bunch of steaks at the grocery store and kept them in the fridge for a couple of days before opening them up and realizing that something wasn’t right. I actually did make an effort to go return them, and the people there were just like, “Nope, sorry, no refunds on meat bought more than twenty-four hours ago.” And what am I going to do, stand there and argue with someone about how that’s a ridiculous policy, that that’s why you guys put expiration dates on the merchandise, so it doesn’t have to be cooked all on the same day of purchase?
It’s like one time I remember I was coming home late at night, and I knew I needed milk for cereal and coffee the next day. So I stopped at one of those corner groceries, not a grocery store, but just like one of those places you’d buy a bottle of soda and a scratch-off.
I bought the gallon of milk from the refrigerator in the back. I woke up the next morning, poured myself a huge bowl of cereal, and then as soon as I twisted open the top from the gallon of milk, it was that gross, rancid, spoiled milk smell. I looked at the date printed on the side, and it told me that this thing should have been sold no later than sometime last week.
And I was just pissed, like I’m pissed right now. It’s like, you’re just an asshole at that point, you know that the milk is clearly bad, but you’re just hoping that some jerk is going to walk in and buy it without looking. Me. I’m the jerk. I didn’t look. I’m the guy that walked into a store and just kind of assumed that all of the food there would have been edible.
Whatever. It’s six bucks. I’m getting bent out of shape about nothing. But still. Part of me won’t let go of the anger steadily building up inside. I hope I can get over this someday.