I dropped by at the fruiterer’s on the way home again, because we needed to stock up our fridge.  The new school year has started and my daughter loves fruit. She has to have her fruit every day. When we run out of fruit at home, she asks for carrot, red capsicum or even celery sticks as substitutes.  How she manages to eat those raw celery sticks is really beyond me!

Some of you picked up on my comment about me calling my fruiterer in  my post about Pineapple  Fried Rice.  Well, “fruiterer” is just the proper word for “fruit-seller” (so quit rolling your eyes already!).  An alternative word would be “greengrocer”, but then mine doesn’t sell any vegetables.  It’s a family-run shop in the nearby HDB heartland.

On one side of the shop and along the common corridor outside the shop, they put out the fresh fruit for sale. On the other side, they have traditional Chinese goodies, fresh flowers, and some paraphernalia used for Chinese ancestral worship.  I’ve been buying fruit there at least once a week in the last two-and-a-half years. If either of the two brothers or K (whom I believe is married to one of the brothers) are around, they help select fruit for me.  If any of the fruit I pick out looks to them like it wouldn’t pass muster, I can count on them to swap it for something better before putting it in the bag, usually without a word.  This helps especially when I buy papayas,  which my daughter likes, but which I know little about, since papayas have never been one of my personal favourites. These guys always recommend the good stuff when they have it, such as the Spanish melons which I adore.  And they advise me not to buy the watermelons if that particular batch isn’t the best.  When I have heavy bags, they carry them to the car for me without being asked. Other times, they let me out the back door so I have a shorter distance to walk to the car park.  In the week leading up to the Chinese New Year, I can call them to reserve mandarin oranges and they’ll help load my car with the cartons when I go pick them up. And best of all, if I need a sweet and juicy pineapple with which to make Pineapple Rice, I just give them a call before going directly to their shop to pick it up, instead of running around a supermarket looking for one. See, it pays to get to know your fruiterer. So if you find one you like, chat him or her up, and ask for his or her number.

The same goes for your poultry-seller.  With a phone number, you can call ahead to reserve your chicken or duck when you are going to arrive late at the market. Mine is a nice lady called L.

Since leaving practice and moving into this neighbourhood, I’ve been a lot more hands-on with the marketing and grocery-shopping. The bulk of it usually gets delegated to our helper, but especially when I plan on doing the cooking myself, I prefer to go to the wet market or supermarket on my own.  It’s also an excuse to bask among gorgeous fresh produce, as well as to chat up the butcher, poultry-seller and greengrocer. This is how I cultivate the inner auntie within me.

But I don’t chat with the fishmonger at our wet market. His wife isn’t particularly friendly nor pleasant. So I usually keep it short and sweet when we get to the fish.