Stuck on Aisle 5

May 31st, 2019 by Diane Seymour | 0

At any moment, I expect a Publix employee to approach and ask me to kindly move on or at least to ask if there’s a problem. Ten minutes and twenty customers have passed since I stopped in front of the shelves overloaded with a dizzying array of olive oil bottles. Five times I’ve placed a different bottle in my cart only to put it back on the shelf, finding it difficult to choose.

Choices! As a kid, our choices came in twos – Cheerios or Shredded Wheat, Sears of Montgomery Ward, Channel 12 or 22, Ford or Chevy, butter or margarine. Today’s Cheerios let’s you choose from the original, maple, oat crunch, peach, honey nut, multi grain, apple cinnamon, chocolate, fruity, banana nut, protein cinnamon almond, protein oats and honey, chocolate peanut butter, medley crunch, pumpkin spice, very berry, and yes, Cheerios with ancient grains. How did we ever survive without those ancient grains?

At least with Cheerios, my eyes track immediately to that bright yellow box, only occasionally scanning quickly to find the familiar fall-foliage gold color of the Honey Nut Cheerios that call out to my sweet tooth. The other fifteen flavors are wasted shelf space and fail to suck me into the same confusing conundrum I now face in Aisle 5.

Glass or plastic? Instinctively, I rule out plastic, but that barely narrows the choices. Clear or dark glass? Some distant memory tells me dark glass, but, again, the choices loom large. Virgin or extra virgin? My mind imagines Mother Mary, but I quickly put that thought out of mind and decide that in today’s world, “extra” usually means “better.” Think extra strength, extra pickles, extra cash, extra options. Extra may not make sense for olive oil, but at this point I’m going with whatever it takes to get me home before dark.

I remember when we added channels 16 and 28 to our TV viewing, doubling our choice of stations. No color, no remote, no HD, and no DVR, but, hey, we had choices – twice as many arguments about what to watch! Fifty-some years later, like the Cheerio shelves, I’ve learned to find Gunsmoke, The Big Bang Theory, The Tennis Channel, and a few more and ignore the other four hundred and ninety-one channels. Maybe someday my olive-oil-picking will become that well-honed, but for now…

Cold pressed? Stone milled? First pressed? Hand crafted? Organic? U.S.? International? Mild? Medium? Robust? By now, I’m thinking about doing a Google search or calling my olive-oil literate son, but remind myself that IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER TO ME! My last olive oil bottle lasted three years, two years longer than my son’s fiancée who gave it to me!

So, I decide to use my wine-bottle-choosing method – bottle shape and attractive label. Two more minutes and the Colavita Extra Virgin, First Cold Pressed from Italy sits in my cart next to the original Ritz crackers. I round the corner into Aisle 6 and smile when a familiar bright yellow box easily catches my eye.

That night, I sautéed squash and zucchini in the new olive oil. My untrained palette failed to notice any difference between the new oil and the 3-year old stuff, but that’s OK since I have more important choices to make. Today I started researching SUV models. Did you know that there are forty-seven different SUVs available in the U.S. today? I’ll take the one in the big yellow box?  If only …

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