I was striding purposefully down the aisle of my local Harris Teeter when a package caught my eye–and brought me to a screeching halt–pot-sized spaghetti? This is something that you buy? You don’t just take the regular spaghetti and break it, assuming that you’re not going to just put it into the water slowly, letting it soften until it’s all in the water?
Pot-sized angel hair?
Pot-sized thin spaghetti?
Pot-sized linguine? Really? I was amazed, or maybe stupefied, or maybe the only thing that really covers my reaction was what I understand the British expression–gobsmacked–to mean! Are we so far from “home cooking” that we can’t even deal with pasta unless it’s pot-sized. As you can tell this catapulted me right onto my soapbox, or maybe even onto my high horse (which every you prefer). Has having pot-sized pasta brought down the price of my plain spaghetti that’s too long to fit in the pot unless I stand there and lower it slowly into the water? Not being a marketer, or an economist, merely a consumer, I really doubt that it has. (Besides, I think this would be too short to twirl effectively to wrap it around my fork.) Not something I’m likely to buy (even though I do sometimes buy other Mueller’s pastas.
I went past the pasta display because I was on my way to something of a convenience nature for me: one of the packages of grain mixes. Those don’t leave me gaping. They are very useful for single-serving cooking. My latest is an HT Traders mix of basmati brown rice, red rice, with barley and rye berries. That’s my idea of convenience–I don’t have to buy the standard package of each of those grains: that would be about 1-3/4 pounds of basmati rice, and who knows how much red rice and rye berries. I most likely would not use that mix if I had to buy each of those separately–unless I could buy each from bulk supplies.
That kind of convenience I can get my mind around. I do have packages of barley, oats, but even the dried things don’t have unlimited shelf-life. They don’t spoil–in other words they are not perishable. If you store them carefully in glass jars with good seals, they should not get buggy, but keep them long enough and they won’t hydrate as well, taking longer to cook. For some dried goods like beans, you may get to the point where they will never soften appropriately.
Of course, there’s also the issue of storage space–for those of us without the luxury of a large pantry with miles of shelf space, but who do like variety this is a great alternative. It has another benefit: it’s compatible with the rice cooker. I’m happy to more of the “esoteric” grains show up in my local supermarket–they are cheaper than if I were to go to a specialty shop, not to mention just closer to home.