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Feb 27, 2012 10:44 AM

"What's that?" - grocery store edition.

Today I was in the grocery store and as the cashier is checking out my items, she came across a bag of fruit and she asked me what they were. I was a little surprised she did not know they were plums, this lady was probably in her late 20's or early 30's as well, no accent so I don't think she was from another country originally.
I get asked what produce is often especially when deciphering different lettuces, peppers and always the great parsley/cilantro debate but I was surprised on this one.
What about the rest of you, anything you get asked in the store that surprised you more than normal?

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  1. Maybe she just didn't know it was a plum from a pluot or other such similar looking fruit. Also, there are red plums, Italian plums, etc. Could this have been the case? The cashier has to ring it up under a specific SKU # so that the inventory is kept in check. Maybe she was just making sure?

    3 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      I do not believe they had other varieties, however my receipt simply said "plum" but you are correct, I did not think it may have been a type of plum.

      1. re: pie22

        Having been cashier in retail in my younger days, I like to give people in these positions the benefit of the doubt. It's not an easy job dealing with people every day and sometimes a cashier can have an "off" day. :)

        1. re: ttoommyy

          that's understandable, just saying she wasn't in her "younger" days and i was surprised and it made me think of other potentially similar stories so i thought i would bring up the topic. :)

    2. I once wanted to make a rhubarb pie for my son. I hunted around various markets looking for rhubarb and finally found it at Lucky, a real mass market chain. The clerk had no idea what it was and was really surprised to find it listed under the fruits. I had to explain to a small group of clerks and managers that this thing that looked like red celery really was a fruit and how it could be used.

      Rhubarb is apparently not featured much in Mexican cuisine.

      10 Replies
      1. re: 512window

        Of course you know it's not REALLY a fruit because a fruit is the ripened ovary of a plant. Rhubarb is botanically a vegetable, as it is the leaf stalk.

        1. re: babette feasts

          It's used like a fruit. Which is why it's listed as a fruit in the little guide at the cashier's station.

          1. re: babette feasts

            That "fruit/vegetable" thing is so tiresome. There is a distinction to be made between everyday language and scientific nomenclature. When a mother who served squash for dinner tells her child to "eat your vegetables," what do you think is the right answer?

            1. re: GH1618

              You mean like when guest judge Sam Kass of the White House kitchen sneeringly told Team Angelo in an early episode of TC-DC that the tomato they used was a fruit and did not qualify as a vegetable? Botanically/scientifically correct, culinarily incorrect. There were folks on that thread on CH who saw nothing wrong with calling it a fruit yet couldn't think offhand of other stuff that competitors were using that weren't vegetables (you mean like green beans, zucchini, corn, etc -or the squash you asked about)

              1. re: GH1618

                All fruits are vegetables.

                Not all vegetables are fruit.

                (And then there's mushrooms, which are biologically closer to animals. But sit with the roots and leaves in the grocery store.)

                1. re: benbenberi

                  No. There is no botanical definition of vegetable. There really isn't one of "fruit" either - technically it's a fruiting body.

                  An apple is a fruiting body, but it's not a vegetable. An acorn squash is a fruiting body, and it is a vegetable. A carrot is a root, not a fruiting body, and it is a vegetable. Mushrooms are fungi and are vegetables.

                  1. re: 512window

                    A vegetable = A plant or part of a plant used as food.

                    Culinarily speaking, there is ambiguity and looseness in the usage, as you indicate, which excludes apples and may include mushrooms. Biologically speaking, apples, squash, carrots, and lettuce are all equally vegetable (though obviously different parts of their plant), and fungi emphatically are not.

                    1. re: benbenberi

                      In 1883 there was a US tariff act that applied to vegetables but not fruits. The question of whether that act applied to tomatoes or not lead to a court ruling.
                      outlines the reasoning and related cases

                      1. re: paulj

                        I think that there are three ways to define fruits/veg; legally, culinarily, and botanically.

                2. re: GH1618

                  Then there's that childhood "animal, vegetable, or mineral" game. I don't remember how mushrooms were classified, or even whether they ever came up, but I'm pretty sure it would have been "vegetable."

            2. Happens to me often with very young cashiers.

              1. Happened over the weekend at my local store that has morphed from Southeast Asian to Dominican Republic/Caribbean. The red potato was entered as a red yam. And this after the manager explained to her what it was.

                1. I do get asked that. The last time I was asked, it was some sort of green veggie--maybe mustard. The checkout guy was my age, which means he was not young. I've been asked by all ages though. A lot of people don't know any except the most basic of fresh food.