It was most definitely a rare treat, being at the grocery store stocking up for the week with only one child. And I was relishing every live long moment of the experience. Pausing while selecting cantaloupe, having enough time and attention span to pick out just the right one. Actually reading the price label on the tomatoes. Finding the best deal on bagged salad, and that elusive block of muenster cheese that I needed to go with the wine I'd be drinking later on that night with my best girlfriend in the world.
All without the distractions of, shall we say, a certain little dictator named Katie.
Not that I don't love spending time with my children, because as much as I kid about their ways and never having enough time to myself, they are pretty awesome. But when you remove one child from the equation (and more so when you remove two) the parenting experience changes...drastically.
Shopping with my 12-year-old is almost like having no children at all - plus he likes to push the cart and doesn't run into senior citizens.
Which leads me to the section of the grocery store known as the "refrigerated and prepared foods" department.
In other words, hummusville.
While I know that making hummus from scratch requires little or no skill - just a reliable food processor or a lot of pent up anger and a very fine tool with which to smash chickpeas into a smooth paste - I prefer to buy mine ready-made.
Have you been in hummusville lately?
Like most delicious and necessary items in the grocery store, hummus is available in an endless amount of varieties and sizes.
As tempting as it was to buy the largest tub with the sundried tomatoes layered on top, all I was really after was a healthy alternative to ranch dressing for my kids to dip their carrot sticks in, and sundried tomato anything is really not their thing...or my husbands. In fact, sundried tomato anything is so far from being his thing and so much a part of things I find irresistible that he will tease that if it has lemon, vanilla, cinnamon or sundried tomatoes in the ingredients, I will eat it...no matter what it is. The it in question could be a steaming heap of cow dung, but if sprinkled with a little sundried tomatoes, I'd have a hard time keeping my fork off it.
So now that you understand how much I really love sundried tomatoes and I'd have bought a whole GALLON of the sundried tomato hummus had I had the opportunity, you can understand my displeasure upon finding only a tag with the words sundried tomato hummus on it, below an empty spot on the shelf where the goodness should have been. I hung my head in disappointment, held back the tears.
There was garlic hummus, traditional hummus, hummus with ingredients I'd never heard of. There was hummus in large containers and small containers and containers in between. Hummus. Hummus. Hummus.
How on earth would I choose?
Garlic? Maybe, but what if the kids run around with garlic breath all week thinking they can scare away the entire cast of the Twilight movies?
Big, super-sized container? Maybe, but what if we don't eat it all and then it goes to waste? Or, what if they leave it out on the picnic table accidentally and the dog gets ahold of it and then has accidents all over the house (on the carpet) and I have to clean it up in the middle of the night like that one time he ate the raw egg?
As I stood there, pondering the effects of each variety of hummus available, it suddenly dawned on me, like a neon light flashing "OPEN" in the middle of nowhere or that funny lady in the commercials standing outside the department store the morning of a huge sale opening and closing her hands rapidly saying, "OPEN OPEN OPEN," I'd just get the traditional, in a size I knew would make sense.
But do you know how long I stood there, trapped in some kind of alternate hummus universe actually thinking?
A long time.
Thing is, I love - rather, appreciate - that we live where there are so many choices available to us. No better place is this more evident than down a supermarket's aisles, with rows upon rows of everything under the sun available in fat free! light! jumbo! reduced! low carb! high fiber! single serve! economy pack!
But sometimes, all I want is a little hummus. Enough for my kids to dip their carrot sticks in all week without an added flavor that nobody but me would love (although guessing from it's lack of being on the shelf, that stuff is pretty tasty).
I realized that having my kids in the grocery store with me - tagging along begging for candy and squirt guns - keeps me from standing in one place, pondering pondering pondering, why it is there are so many kinds of hummus.
Because don't I have better things to do with my time?
*Originally posted in 2009