Tomato-Basil Soup with Orzo
This is one of my favorite "comfort foods" to eat when I'm back at my parents' house. My mom makes a mean soup. I figured I could modify the recipe and use fresh instead of canned tomatoes. My farmer has a wide variety of tomatoes available to us each week. I planned ahead and tried to get mostly red tomatoes (2 varieties) last week. I combined my Mom's recipe with a recipe for tomato basil soup from Asparagus to Zucchini (a CSA cookbook). If you don't know what a CSA is, read this post about CSAs.
I made my shopping list and headed out. For those of you that don't know, I've recently moved to rural SC. It is hard-core country out here. (Earlier today, one of the neighborhood kids was telling me he had to "bawl" his mouthgaurd to make an imprint for football practice.) The point of telling you that is to let you know that orzo isn't exactly in the food vocabulary of most people. Anticipating this, I chose Bi-Lo because I know you can get orzo in the Bi-Lo by my parents' house.
By most people, I mean the cashier, customer service clerk, and store manager of my local Bi-Lo. The manager's a really sweet guy. Last time I was there, all the registers froze and had to be rebooted, leaving my debit payment in credit limbo for about 20 minutes. He ended up comping me an item and giving me a couple of warm cookies to munch on while I waited. Tonight he looked at me, befuddled, and asked if orzo was a certain brand of a specific food. I explained to him that it was actually a specific food and I'd settle for any brand.
|I was looking for something like this, but|
|would have settled for this.|
I told him that I'd been wandering the rice and pasta aisle for awhile and didn't see it but wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing it before I gave up. He asked what it was, how you cook it, etc. and told me he'd never heard of such a contraption. The manager then called another Bi-Lo (about equal distance from my house, but on the other side), and asked if they carried it. They didn't. He was genuinely apologetic that they didn't carry what I wanted. He told me if I could bring him a label, a brand name, or send him an email with a major brand name, he'd order me some. Seriously? So awesome! I know that other grocery stores will do this on occasion, but I've never had to worry about it. If they didn't carry my CoCoWheats, I just went without or stockpiled the suitcase when I visited the family up north.
Now I (and you!) know that you should just politely ask for your grocery store to order specific items for you. Maybe this would help keep businesses more local. My grocery stores are big national chains, but they carry a lot of locals and organics, which means I don't have to drive 45 minutes plus to get to a health food store.
PS- In addition to having an awesome, super helpful, problem solving, superhero manager, my Bi-Lo carries something called Farina. It looked like a suitable substitute for my Coco-Wheats breakfast treat, so I grabbed a box. I called my mom to tell her my exciting orzo story and mentioned my Farina, because she's the reason I love CoCo Wheats. Turns out- Mom ate Farina for years before CoCo Wheats came onto her radar. They're supposed to be tasty. Bi-Lo for the win!
*No, they didn't pay me to say that, but I wish they would.*