I needed items for our stir-fry last night, so I stopped by the Whole Foods on Briarcliff on my way home. I like to poke around the veggie section and see what looks good, and I always include something leafy in my stir-fry, right at the last minute. I usually go for bok choy but yesterday they only had baby bok choy and it was so understated I daresay it was more fetal bok choy than baby-aged. Ah, but speaking of baby greens, the baby kale was the crisp-looking and the most alluring shade of spring green...yes, this was the leafy green for the night. I got a few other items and then felt my usual twitch developing - the twitch that lets me know it's time to get out of the store.
I got in line, placed my items on the check-out conveyor belt and waited my turn. My cashier for the day was an older woman, pleasantly round and brown; I anticipated a friendly Indian grandmother type. Everything seemed to be going just fine between the two of us until she got to the kale. "Do you remember what this is?" she asked me. I told her it was baby kale and that's when things took a sudden southward turn. She emitted the kind of laugh you might find yourself unable to stifle if, for example, I said that a bar of soap was baby kale. There was a slight hesitation, to see if I was kidding, followed by an escaped guffaw.
"That is not baby kale" she snorted.
"Really?" I inquired, caught off guard "it looks exactly the baby kale I buy at the Farmer's Market..."
"Huh. Uh, no. Have you ever seen kale? I can show you what kale looks like, if you need me to."
Now I was annoyed. In addition, I was 99% certain that stuff was baby kale. The woman behind me chimed in helpfully -
"There are many different types of kale..." I gave her a thankful smile.
"This is not kale" the not at all grandmotherly cashier reiterated. She began to riffle through her list of SKUs. "This is...oh...what do you call it...."
"Baby kale." I said flatly.
"Baby kale." I said flatly.
"Do you want kale? I can help you find kale" she said again.
What I wanted more than kale, was to get the hell out of there and forever end my contact with this woman.
"I want that." I said, pointing at the kale. "The item your co-workers also believed to be baby kale, and labeled as such on the shelf." Her head was again buried in the list.
"Ah, here we are..." she rang it up. Frisee.
"That is not..." I began, but saw that frisee (a bitter, impossible to masticate, much lighter in color, far lacier around the leaves, inedible waste-of-salad-space) was a full $1 per pound cheaper than the organic baby kale I was actually purchasing. Since I was being made to endure this combative hag, I felt I deserved the discount.
"Is frisee what you meant to buy?" the cashier challenged me. My new friend in line behind me gave me a wide-eyed Oh My God look. I bet she gets that Get Out Now twitch, too.
" I mean to buy exactly that, whatever you choose to call it." I said, but what I thought was 'why don't you just stick it in a bag and shut your whore mouth!?!' Sometimes I think really mean things. We parted ways and as I walked to my car I congratulated myself for not prolonging that absurd argument about the proper name of leafy green vegetables. However, when I got home I was compelled to find proof regarding the plant I intended to eat later that evening. I Googled "baby kale".
Suck it, mean cashier lady!
*Kevin, before you bother to comment, I know the referenced is a sentence fragment. Don't care.