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How to bring home the perfect potatoes

Times have changed for the worst, I grumbled, taking a picture of a fruit that I had never seen before and uploading it on Twitter, with the caption, ‘Anyone know what this is?’

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My wife’s shopping list will not go viral like Era Golwalkar’s detailed list with doodles of vegetables so her husband does not bring home the wrong groceries.

The thoughtful lady had drawn a chili, with an explanation that it should be dark green, straight, and not with its end curling up. There were drawings of various sized potatoes and an admonition that they should not have ‘eyes’ and should not be green-coloured.

The foodie wife made the illustrated list and had drawn two leaves of spinach, one punched with holes, and wrote that he should get two bunches without the holes.

The kind lady then shared the shopping list meant for her helpless husband on social media and it went viral for some reason.

My wife’s list for me is never so detailed, but if ever I lose it in the hypermarket, everyone would know who is the important person in our home.

The shopping list is never sent on WhatsApp or as an SMS, but is handwritten on a torn page from a school notebook. It usually has explanations such as the after-wash fabric conditioner should have a white baby on the label, not a blue baby.

The first item on the list is never my favourite stuff from the butchery, the mutton chops, steaks or minced meat burgers, but cat food and tinned tuna specifically. “Don’t get glazed duck. Cat hates it,” said the explanatory note. I looked at the price on the tin of tuna and had to put down the shopping basket and take a deep breath.

I immediately called up my wife. “Cats are not bears, they do not like fish,” I said. “They like to eat birds, rodents, lizards, not fish that comes in a tin. It says, “gourmet food” on the label and costs Rs78,” I whispered.

“And the cat is useless, I can’t even play with it. All it does the whole day is just eat and sleep,” I said without thinking.

“So do you,” she shot back. “Listen, we adopted this cat and we have to take good care of him.”

“And do not get any liver for us,” she said. “I hate the way it smells.”

“The housemaid does not know how to cook liver,” I said. “You should first brown the onions, then add ginger and garlic paste. The liver should be lightly sauteed …” I said, my mouth watering, but I was interrupted.

“It has loads of calories. Get chicken,” said my wife. “Remember, the doctor said no red meat. Not good for you.”

Remembering the chunks

I remember how much more fun shopping was before the invention of the mobile phone. You basically ignored everything written on the list and you magnificently improvised. (“This humongous bag of chips, as tall as a two-year old baby, is for the weekend movies.”)

But times have changed for the worst, I grumbled, taking a picture of a fruit that I had never seen before and uploading it on Twitter, with the caption, “Anyone know what this is?”

“White meat looks so dead,” I said, trundling over to the poultry section. “Give me a two-kilo whole chicken, with the skin,” I told the butcher, imagining a pot of chicken boiling with a sheen of tasty oil on the top.

“We have only curry cut chicken,” he said, pointing to a tray of tiny pieces of meat like the ones waiters bring to you in a posh party, which you then pick one with a toothpick and delicately place it in your mouth before it falls on the grass.

I am used to eating huge legs of chicken or massive chunks from the breast. “I like chicken that is bred on steroids. This chicken looks starved,” I told the butcher, who looked puzzled.

My wife now just orders home delivery.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. You can follow him on Twitter at @mahmood_saberi.

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