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August 1, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:14 pm

I’m beginning to worry that I’m more like my parents than I previously thought. When I was little, I spent hours, bored, in Tesco as Dad did a very detailed weekly shop. It was completely beyond me how anyone could take such pleasure in grocery shopping*. Now the shoe is very much on the other foot. I’m the one making the weekly pilgimage to Borough and I can spend just as long as Dad did eyeing up the vegetables.

Another way in which I have taken after my father is my love of food bargains. I’m not quite as bad as he was- at least I eventually eat every food bargain I get- but I love finding good quality food for low prices.

Recently, Whole Foods has been a great place to get bargains as their pricing system has been on the fritz.  I’ve managed to get a few items for free as, if something isn’t on the computer system, they don’t charge you for it. This happened for some oyster mushrooms and  several exotic fruits, but I got the best bargain of all last week.

I’d popped into the store to get a whole chicken to roast but had started checking out the prices on the individual joints. Something didn’t add up. I noticed two packs of corn fed chicken supremes (exactly the same product) next to each other. One weighed 350g and cost £2.30 and the other weighed 600g and cost £7.85. Closer inspection did indeed reveal that the larger pack cost twice as much per kilo as the smaller pack.

In fact, every pack weighing under 500g had the very reasonable stamp of £6.69 per kilo on them. Curious to find out what was going on, I went to the meat counter and asked one of the assistants.

“Ah, ” he said sagely, “the packs are different prices because they have different weights.”

Clearly this guy thought I was an idiot. I tried to explain further. ”But the 350g pack costs £2.30 and the 600g pack costs £7.85.”  

He looked at me with a sympathetic expression and, in tone of voice I reserve only for the most ’special**’ of my students said, ”Yes, the smaller packs cost less. It’s only fair. There’s less chicken in them.”

I’m not used to being treated like I’m stupid***. For some reason, the impending maths PhD makes people think I know what I’m talking about, even if I am spouting utter garbage so I had no idea how to deal with this treatment. Luckily for him,  he stopped patronizing me when I explained the price per kilo was different on each pack and came over to look. After staring  at the two groups of chicken for a minute, he ran off to find his boss and came back with a pricing gun.

“Someone’s mispriced the chicken,” he said.  ”It should all be £13.39 per kilo. It’s lucky you told us that. this stuff would go through the tills without any problem and then I’d be in trouble!”

I smiled, nodded, grabbed as many packs of the bargain chicken as I could and then sprinted towards the checkouts before the guy could stop me. Well, how could I resist good quality meat for that price?! :D

A couple of days after I bought the chicken, I really fancied some crispy roast potatoes. I also really wanted a curry , so I invented a meal that would satisfy both of my cravings.

 tandoori roast chicken with spiced potatoes and black lentil sauce

My bargain chicken supremes became tandoori chicken and were served with roast potatoes flavoured with cumin, coriander, turmeric and mustard seed, some okra roasted with fennel seed and a black lentil sauce. This was a great meal for colour, with the vibrant red of the chicken, green of the okra, yellow potatoes and purple-black sauce.  

The flavours in this were just what I needed. It cured my curry bug whilst still allowing me to have my crispy crumbly, fatty potatoes. The tandoori chicken was tasty but very easy to make. The chicken is first marinated in lemon and garlic for half an hour, then a second marinade of cumin, coriander, paprika, ground cardamom seeds, chilli powder and ginger mixed with yoghurt goes on. After a few hours of marinading, the chicken is roasted until it is cooked through.

The inspiration for the black lentil sauce came from this Atul Kochhar recipe. Mine wasn’t quite the same. For a start I had to omit the fenugreek leaf and decided to substitute coconut milk for cream, but it was very much along the same lines.

One day I think I’ll make this meal with a whole chicken. Now that would look dramatic!

*It’s still beyond me how someone can get so much pleasure from grocery shopping when they’re mostly buying ready meals, but each to their own.

**That would be ‘retarded’ for those of you not acquainted with politcally correct language.   

***Except by my supervisor, of course. But he thinks I’m a bit slow because I can’t manipulate arbitrary n-dimensional vectors in Projective space without trying to draw a picture, so I’m not too worried about his opinion. ;)  


  1. i am so the same way! i love grocery shopping! and a good bargain. pathetically, one of the highlights of my week is every monday when the market ads come in the mail and i can have a nice long sit and see if there is anything good for me to snatch up. i wish our whole foods’ computers would go on the fritz! i can barely afford to shop there. i hope you post your quinoa endeavor soon.

    Comment by amanda — August 2, 2007 @ 3:29 am

  2. lol ros, you crack me up… I am just picturing you sprinting across the store with a few bags of chicken in hand :D
    I too got some good bargains at whole foods, if they don’t know the price of an item, they just ask you if $1.99 ok, and more often than not, it is totally okay :D I got some nice vanilla essence which is at least $12 for $1.99 yesterday, even after I told them it is way more than $1.99 :) well, their loss is my gain…

    Comment by Sig — August 2, 2007 @ 7:03 am

  3. LOL! Lucky you for getting the bargain packs and outrunning the guy with the pricing gun! And I also had to laugh at your “special student” voice. I think every lecturer has a tone of voice for those special students - I know I had :o )

    Comment by Jeanne — August 29, 2007 @ 11:51 am

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