The New York Times does Dollar Store

Courtsey of Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

What every human seeks is companionship, the feeling that among all the billions of people on this planet of ours there is at least one person that can see you for who you are and shares common beliefs.

I am not alone.

The New York Times journalist, Henry Alford, has ventured into the world of 99 cent store dining. His aim was to create a meal a night using only ingredients from the dollar store and then end this experiment with a dinner party for some poor souls …. or friends as we like to call them.

Alford found that the dollar stores didn’t have any butter, good olive oil, flour, fresh vegetables. So far so British pound shop. But it seems that American stores have refrigerated sections. Oh the luxury! So Alford made a chicken dish one night (I’ve sampled canned meat but I think I would have to draw the line at 99p chicken…) and made soup with frozen peas (yum) and broccoli.

I was interested to know whether the journalists dinner party was of the same, ahem, calibre as my own dinner. As soon as I read that his first course was an antipasto tray consisting of pepperoncini, olives, artichoke hearts, salami and Brie, I knew the answer. Finding artichoke hearts in my pound shop would be like finding a Christmas tree in the Sahara desert. This course was followed by chilled pear soup with a star anise floating on the top for decoration. STAR ANISE?! Artichoke hearts?! What sort of pound shop was this? The gourmet Upper East Side pound shop? A pound shop in Brunei? My pound shop is in an area of London called Holloway. It would be hard enough to find those ingredients in a local Holloway shop let alone in the pound shop.

To continue to read from Alfords menu would depress me. You can read the results for yourself here.

Suffice to say his pecan dessert looked very pretty and tasty though perhaps it lacked the ‘creativity’ of my dinner party cakes. At least thats what I like to tell myself.

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Day 21 – Dumpster Diving

rubbish.jpg

It was my brother, Chris who set me this pound shop challenge. And it is my brother Chris who is already plotting the next bet. This time he wants me to become a freegan. ‘What’s a freegan?’, I hear you cry. For those who don’t know here’s the blurb from Wiki:

Freeganism is an anti-consumerism lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on “limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

Yes, basically you root around in bins looking for food.

There are many restaurants, supermarkets and cafes that throw away their goods because they have expired when the food is still edible. In a world where others are struggling to find food to eat, this really is a disgusting thought. I have heard of schemes in Italy that organise ways of talking the expired food to homeless shelters and places of need. Here it is illegal, as far as I understand, to give away food that is past its sell-by-date. So they have to chuck it away. And this is where the freegans step in, to prove what a wasteful society we are.

So I’m considering this bet….but not until Christmas is over. I want my not-very-likely-to-be-found-in-a-bin roast goose first….