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Punk’d in the Produce Section

The recipe sounded easy enough. Eight ounces of goat cheese, one-third cup cream, chopped chives and a small handful of fresh herbs. Our good friends, Bob and Laurell, were visiting from Colorado in a couple of days and I wanted to impress them with a special appetizer.

cooking with herbs, shopping for produce, entertaining friends, getting punk'd

But wait? What was that last ingredient? Fresh herbs? That’s it? How was a cooking challenged gal like myself supposed to know which herbs suited a goat cheese dip? I wasn’t even sure what qualified as an herb. Parsley? Sage? Rosemary? Thyme? What about turmeric? Cumin?

No, I think they’re spices. You see my dilemma.

So naturally, I turned to my Facebook family to unravel the mystery.

All you cooks out there. I need your help. A recipe for herbed goat cheese mousse (cheese dip) calls for a handful of chopped fresh herbs. That’s a bit vague for me. Which herbs do you recommend?

Thanks! J

Then I headed off to Safeway. I loaded my cart with the listed ingredients, choosing the pricier locally produced cheese over the cheaper import. Then I scooted my cart to produce, and opened Facebook on my phone to see if any responses to my inquiry had been posted.

The Expert Weighs In

I was especially pleased to see that Steve, an old friend and former flame had responded. We reconnected via social media a couple years ago, along with other alumni from those days, during the run up to our forty-year class reunion.

Owner of a successful produce distribution company he inherited from his dad and worked in since he was a teenager, Steve also fancies himself a cook. My husband and I, along with Steve’s wife and alumni visiting from out of town, enjoyed a home cooked meal he prepared awhile back.

I recognized “basil” in his reply. I thought “lavender” a bit odd, but the other herb he recommended didn’t ring a bell. Not surprising, I thought. He is, after all, outstanding in the edible plant field.

No need to wait for any other responses. I can brag to our visitors about the exotic ingredient I discovered.

I approached a Safeway employee piling russets into a large bin and asked if he had heard of the unfamiliar plant. No, he hadn’t. He called over a colleague. She thought for a moment, then shook her head. No idea.

“I’ll look it up,” he said, retrieving his phone from a pocket. After a few screen taps, he cocked his head to one side and frowned.

“It’s coming up as…” he paused. Then suppressing a smile, “marijuana.” He proceeded to read the description. “According to Wikipedia, the name Panama Red, ‘comes from its cultivation in the country of Panama, and its claylike red color.’”

Then it hit me. Steve was arguably the most notorious prankster on campus back in the late ‘60s.

“Of course,” I said, grinning. “Some things never change.”

Read more from Camille DeFer Thompson on her blog

Camille DeFer Thompson

Camille DeFer Thompson has been writing since childhood. She has won acclaim for her fiction and non-fiction published in a number of anthologies, including Publishing Syndicate’s Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement. Her feature articles appear in print, and online at San Ramon PatchCamille lives with her husband in Northern California. Visit her website at Camille DeFer Thompson.

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Camille DeFer Thompson

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

Who knew my innocent little post would stir up such controversy! Thank you all for your comments! Let's hear it for the salad days!

Her Royal Thighness

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

The time on this comment is incorrect. It is 2:10 p.m., almost 4 hours since I emailed you.

Her Royal Thighness

Wednesday 23rd of April 2014

I'm sorry. I thought I was leaving a comment for the writer. The writer doesn't respond to her own comments?


Tuesday 22nd of April 2014

I'm ready for salad! Too cute


Tuesday 22nd of April 2014

Too funny! I'm with Penny...when can we come for 'salad'

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