I had not done any shopping on Saturday and was almost on my way out today when I noticed that my husband was still in his dressing gown. This may have seemed innocuous enough but in fact it was a clear indication that I was about to lose an hour of my day.
‘I was about to go shopping,’ I said, ‘Were you expecting a lift in?’
‘It would be nice,’ he replied.
This meant that I had forty five minutes to fill in before I had to take him for the six minute trip up the road. It was not enough time to go and get the shopping done, but it was just about the amount of time I needed to vacuum the house.
I don’t think anyone could accuse me of living an over-glamorous life.
My plan, when we finally set off, had been to leave the dogs behind but that proved impossible. Not practically impossible, just emotionally impossible what with the four tragic brown eyes burning a hole to my core. They recognise the routine on a Sunday when my husband is going to work and there is little room for manoeuvre. They come in the car and they get a walk after we drop him off.
That added another twenty minutes.
So it was nudging two o’clock when I picked up my brother. I had just the activity in mind that I knew he enjoyed: shopping.
My brother likes to shop but he is very much in the browsing camp. He likes to linger over shelves, compare products, mull over purchases and preferably get out of there without spending a cent. I am more at the pointy end of the operation and today was no exception.
First stop: a shopping centre which had a large department store that I had heard stocked decent liver treats. Recently it has been hard to get nice small sized ones and sure enough I found large packets of them on the shelves. I took three and headed for the checkout.
‘No time for that,’ I said to my brother, who had stopped to open a sandwich maker which was on display, test its hinge action and place a hand upon its grill plate to check the quality.
We headed back to the carpark but on the way noticed a bakery which was clearing out cakes. One of them, called a princess cake is my father’s absolute favourite and my mother likes it too. I bought one and put it in a cooler bag.
‘What are you looking to buy?’ I asked my brother.
‘Some Naan bread,’ he said, ‘we’re having a curry tonight, and some wine.’
I took him to a big undercover market near where I live. The market area has two massive fruit and veg shops, one of which is an Asian grocer too and it also has an Indian supermarket. You can actually buy naan bread in an ordinary supermarket but I needed enoki mushrooms so I thought we may as well hit them both.
My brother found his Naan and fingered some paneer cheese as well. Whenever he arrives he always brings with him one search for at least one food item. This time it was cheeses. He was keen to try paneer and also saganaki. In the end, though he left with just the bread.
We got out of the market and the hit the chemist and the ordinary supermarket. I wheeled the trolley around throwing in the weekly items which were mainly dog related and we got out of there with forty minutes to spare until closing time.
‘I will take you to Aldi,’ I said, ‘they do cheaper halloumi cheese there, it is as close as you will get to saganaki.’
Aldi is as close as I ever get to browsing because all the products have unrecognizable brand names but vaguely familiar packaging. As my brother observed, it is like shopping in a parallel universe. We walked in and to my surprise, there in the cheese section, we found the elusive saganaki, the first time I have ever seen it since I first ate it on the island of Kefalonia many years ago.
After that it was just a matter of picking up wine and dropping back through my house so we could walk the dogs and I could drop him back home to my parent’s. They were happy to see the Princess Cake. My brother confessed himself exhausted by the afternoon’s activity.
‘I feel like I have been on some sort of game show where you have to shop as quickly as possible,’ he said.
But I was happy. Happy that I too had bought some saganaki, which I fried and ate tonight with a squeeze of lemon juice. It was delicious.