Friday, May 11, 2007

Milk Eggs Vodka (Found Grocery Lists)

I saw this in Borders yesterday and nearly choked. Well, not choked. I certainly did a double-take. This is a specialized version of the "Found" phenomenon. Here's the book description from Amazon:

This book is a compilation of abandoned grocery lists that have been discovered in grocery carts, market floors, and parking lots across the country. If we are what we eat, then this book reveals deep truths about the average American (not to mention more mundane truths like a surprising number of people enjoy onions, and, for most people, mayonnaise is very, very difficult to spell). Separated into chapters (funny lists, sad lists, unhealthy lists, organized lists) the book also includes commentary by the author and some very special recipes created from found grocery lists. Sidebars and food facts round out the menu.

BillyBlog has been host to numerous found items, and I think I pick up grocery lists several times a month. However, they generally seem rather boring and un-blogworthy. However, I have had a couple small lists sitting on my desk for a few months and figured that, now that there's a book devoted to these things, I might as well hop on the bandwagon.

Here are my two contributions to popular culture. I found these round and about over the last year or so.

This is not your typical shopping list, obviously. It's not a Foodtown, or Ralph's, or Safeway order. The text, in fact, is poetic, borderline haiku:

Musky - sandlewood (sic)
red wood
woody peppermint

glade scented oil candle.
little candle in a pot.

Do me a favor. Read it out loud to yourself. There's a rhythm, a repetition, a poem screaming to be told.

This list is more in line with the nature of the book, it seems. Again, there is a juxtaposition of the ordinary words to create a tension between the mundane and the eclectic:

Paper towels
Cling Wrap
Olive oil
Blue tape, Red, Yellow
Collins mix

spiced wine

We go from the ordinary paper towels and cling wrap, to olive oil, then the bizarre "blue tape, red, yellow". Scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape, okay. But blue, red and yellow tape? I know it exists, but those are highly specialized items, not something you'd see at the grocery store.

Then we are back to ordinary with eggs and tomatoes, but we switch back to party mode: Collins mix, grenadine, cherries. And then I read a lot (perhaps too much) into the great space between cherries and the last two items. In New York, most of the grocery stores don't sell liquor. You have to go to a special store for those items. That's the logic between the big gap. It's a different stop: differentiate. Then: one-two bang! Gin and spiced wine. The word "spiced" makes the list, it punctuates it with an adjective. If it had ended with wine, it would have fallen flat. But, ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a party: there will be spiced wine. Yum.

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