I take an apple to school everyday. I usually eat it in the car on the way home, and it’s always a Granny Smith. I used to buy different kinds of apples, but the occasional mealy apple really grossed me out. Don’t even get me started on the disappointment I’ve suffered from oh-too-many Red Delicious apples. Gradually, Cortlands, Golden Delicious and Fuji have given way to the consistently crisp, tart and juicy Granny Smiths.
Last week after a walk on the beach, my husband suggested going grocery shopping at Shaw’s instead of at Hannaford. Now, as you may have guessed from the above apple revelation, I’m a creature of habit. I prefer my regular routines. I tend to drive the same route, load the dishwasher the
correct same way, and order the same thing at our favorite Indian restaurant (Shahi Paneer and Punjabi Naan= heaven!). And yeah, I like to eat the same kind of apples and grocery shop at Hannaford. Kurt, however, was pretty convinced that Shaw’s was the better option on this particular day, as it would save us about 15 minutes of travel time, and he was itchy to get home. I quickly lined up my rebuttal.
“Shaw’s is way more expensive, and I know where everything is at Hannaford. That’ll save time.”
“Molly,” he said, patiently, “Hannaford is under construction. You don’t know where anything is there anymore. You’ve been complaining about it for weeks.”
“Good point,” I conceded, and we went to Shaw’s.
In the produce section, I looked around, trying to get my bearings. The Granny Smiths were straight ahead. Immediately, I checked the price. $1.99/pound.
Yikes! I’m pretty sure they’re at least 20 cents a pound cheaper at Hannaford, I thought. (I’m nothing if not pennywise and pound foolish. And maybe a wee bit stubborn.) I looked around at my other options. Golden Delicious. Honey Crisp. Cortland. Hmmmm… Jazz apples were on sale for $1.79/pound. They looked ok. I carefully selected a few and put them in the cart.
The next day after school, I took out my Jazz apple. I admit, I had been a little excited about it, wondering how this new apple would taste compared to the tried and true Granny Smith. It was a bit odd to have a red apple in my hand. Slowly, I took my first bite. A chunk of apple broke off in my mouth. It was firm, sweet, crunchy and delicious! It was like a different fruit! My eyes opened to what I’d been missing with my Granny Smith-only apple regime. Sure, I hadn’t eaten any disgusting mealy apples lately, but I’d also forgotten all about the delicious taste nuances of apple varieties.
It struck me suddenly that it’s all too easy to fall into patterns and turn them into ruts. Many patterns are helpful, efficient and based on rational decisions. For example, I still believe that Hannaford is less expensive, and I save money by shopping there. But–and this is a big but–it’s also all too easy to forget all about the other options. To consistently choose only one option because it’s known and feels safer, more reliable. To maybe slowly come to believe on some level that your choice is the best choice, and the others are somehow inferior.
Trying a Jazz apple was like a mini-awakening–a reminder that other flavors and textures are out there. Sure I can stick with Granny Smiths and be assured of a pretty safe and tasty apple experience, but what am I missing? So what if there are a few duds. There are sure to be some dazzling taste experiences out there, too.
So, this weekend I went back to Hannaford to shop. But I picked up a few more Jazz apples–along with my tried-and-true Granny Smiths. Who knows, maybe next week I’ll go all radical and try a Honey Crisp!