I don’t know what goes through anyone else’s mind when they decide to go to Tesco, but for me, its an absolute ordeal that requires precision military planning and days of mental build up. I’ll do everything I possibly can to delay the inevitable mad rush from aisle to aisle – up to and including a week of pasta and canned tomato meals that vary only in their seasoning. When the cupboard is finally bare of all but one sorry looking lemon and that can of tuna I’ve carted around with me since university, I’ll finally scribble down my shopping list, put some schnapps in the fridge to calm my nerves on my return and set out.
On the road over there though, I tend to forget just what’s coming. It’s a combination of the cheesy power-ballads I listen to – which have been banned from the house – and the fact my car can corner at 60 mph. In any case, I tend to find myself in a euphoric mood until the sound of the car locking as I walk away snaps me back to reality. As the keys slip into my bag, realisation dawns – I’m at the supermarket, and it’s the school holidays.
No offence to any mothers reading this blog – I know you can’t just leave your children baking on the back seat of your Ka, or abandon them at home to stick metal things into plug sockets, or whatever kids do when they’re not supervised – but the ones who insist on screaming when they realise they can’t have a new Xbox game could at least be gagged. I’ve seen children, and I say this with deadly seriousness, start punching boxes of cereal because their dad picked up the Tesco own brand chocolate-flavour-rice-thingies instead of the ones with the monkey on. And what did Dad do when said child split the box, sending oats flying across the floor?
“Please don’t do that.”
There was no rise in pitch, no angry intonation. The above plea came out as a sort of begging, mewling sound that lacked even the ghost of authority. At that point, I simply let go of my trolley and took refuge amongst the dog food in the next aisle, until my rage subsided.
Another thing I hate about Tesco is the fact that ingredients are really hard to find. You might think that’s a bit of a dumb statement considering the company largely sells food, but jars of pasta sauce, ready-baked potatoes with cheese and boxes of pre-chopped veg that say ‘stir fry’ on, are not ingredients. They’re finished meals that you just have to heat up. I honestly spent fifteen minutes looking for coconut milk and whilst I found not one, but two aisles dedicated to sauces containing this substance, there wasn’t a single can of it, in its unpolluted form.
You could argue that supermarkets are all about a convenient lifestyle and that ready-meals are just a part of that, however I fail to see how pouring a jar of yellow goop over sizzling chicken is easier than pouring over a can of coconut milk, some chili flakes, ginger and coriander. People say they don’t have time to cook and fair enough, lots of people live pretty stressful lives, but surely everyone can find the time to shove a tatty in the microwave for ten minutes while they grate some cheese, instead of buying a potato with cheese already in it for double the price that takes the same amount of time to cook!
It’s widely believed that the nation’s health is suffering due to the number of ready-meals we consume, however thanks to places like Tesco and Asda, no alternative is readily available. Even if the general public suddenly realised they could cook real food, there’s no way they’d be able to acquire the produce needed at a mainstream stockist.
There are some retailers out there who do supply a wide range of products and thankfully, my local Co-op is one of them. Not only do they have coconut milk, but they also carry puy lentils which are another item that the nearby superstore fails to stock. I would do all of my shopping there, but sadly basics – such as canned tomatoes, cereals, bread etc. – are all more expensive.
Still, I’d best stop ranting. Lunch time approaches and unless I want to consume that sickly looking lemon with my antique tuna, I need to go and buy some food…