|| 24 March 2020
Shopping in the COVID-19 US Epicenter
No toilet tissue. If there is one current reality of shopping all across the USA, it is: no toilet tissue. Many places: no paper products. Period.
But what is it like to shop in the New York area, currently the US epicenter of the coronavirus? Penelope who lives in Westchester County, badly hit by the virus, emailed this shopping account. You can compare it with shopping recently in your local area. Penelope wrote:
Yesterday (March 19th) I went shopping for the first time since this all started. I was very trepidatious — wow! that word just came to me out of the blue; I don't think I've used it for 50 or more years — and couldn't decide which store I should go to and when, or if I should try ordering for delivery. But it turned out very, very well.
I saw some empty shelves, but I got all my produce, except there were only radishes in a bag instead of fresh with their tops in a bunch. There were no eggs at all, but when I was all finished, I went back to check and they were just unloading a big shipment. They didn't have my favorite Shoprite yogurt, so I bought some other ridiculously expensive yogurts I'd never seen before. Two were local ones from the Hudson Valley and the third was a Brown Cow that was either new or just new packaging. They're probably delicious and I'll get spoiled and not want my regular yogurt anymore.
They had a lot of Greek yogurt, but it's not my favorite. I just like it for Tzaziki if I'm eating Greek food. I don't see the point in draining out all the water and making something so dense. There's no magic that gives it more protein by volume — because all the water is gone.
I hope I don't have to start making my own yogurt. The idea makes me feel nostalgic, but I don't think I was ever really successful at it. And using powdered milk or fresh milk, it ended up costing more than buying it, at least the Shoprite one. When I was in British Columbia, there were goats and endless supplies of goat's milk.
I made the most delicious yogurt with that milk. I think I was warming it in the pilot light of a oil-burning [!] stove, but I don't remember exactly. I also used to add prune juice to a glass of cold goat's milk and put it into the blender. That produced a drink that tasted just like a chocolate milkshake.
On my shopping yesterday I also bought good local milk and regular milk to freeze. When I went to check out, the cashier said that he thought that there was a limit on milk. There was no sign about it and the other cashiers said that he should just try to ring them all up and see if they were rejected by the cash register. Apparently, the limits on milk had changed several times during the day and that was the only way to tell!
I also got two GIANT cantaloupes. They were the size of large honeydews and were 99 cents each. They're Del Monte! and from Guatemala. They will probably never ripen properly and taste like giant cucumbers, but how could I resist them? I figure that I can always do something else with them. Chutney? fruit salsa? cold soup? sorbet? We'll see. They weigh 6 pounds each.
The store wasn't very crowded at about l:00 p.m. I had decided to wear thin disposable gloves. I knew that they weren't great protection against picking up germs, but they served another purpose: they kept me from touching my face. There were several times that I wanted to scratch an eyebrow or something but I always stopped because of the gloves. They were rubber and they had the extra benefit of making it very easy to open those thin plastic produce bags. I usually have to spit on my fingers to open them, and I was glad to be avoiding doing that in these times.
When I got home, I wiped off the dairy containers and a few other things with alcohol. I am already so tired of doing that, but it makes me feel safer. A friend told me of someone who takes the labels off cans when she gets home. Maybe that isn't terribly crazy?? but I don't buy much canned food. I bought a bag of MacIntosh apples and just put the apples into my own bag instead of trying to clean the outside of the plastic bag.
There are so many more virus cases here, but you already know that. Restaurants are only take-out. Most or all non-food stores are closed. Even my bank is drive-through service only. There's very little traffic now because the schools are all closed. I have daffodils, hellebore, and crocuses, but everything is still all brown and even the flowers seem small and sparse to me. It may be because there was very little snow this winter, or because it wasn't as cold. There are no buds on the trees. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the high 70s and then a thunderstorm. I am so glad I almost never have tornadoes. It's hard to imagine undergoing a pandemic and tornadoes at the same time.