Last week I had a tuna surprise.
When we arrived at the Beach House Not On the Beach, the answering machine blinked with a string of messages. Either I forgot to turn it off or it turned itself on after a power outage. The messages, most selling something, droned on while I listened without giving them much attention. Amazing how many non-people calls we get these days. The last one gave me pause. An automated voice informed it was my grocery store calling about a can of tuna I bought several weeks ago.
The recorded message said that I had purchased a can of Genoa tuna at one of their stores. Yep–I had, indeed. Not here, however. Here we make the two-minute trip to the dockside fish market and buy fresh tuna. (There is much to be said about tuna salad made with fresh tuna, all of it good.) My canned tuna purchases occurred in stores 200 miles from here. I suppose they knew that.
I take my tuna seriously. If you haven’t checked the grocery shelves lately, almost all tuna is packed in water. Not good, according to The Expert. I heard an interview with Julia Child several years ago–from her pantry, mind you–while she explained the staples she always kept on hand, like vermouth. She used it for any recipe that called for white wine because it keeps indefinitely and doesn’t have to be refrigerated after opening. Did you realize vermouth was a staple? (That question is only for non-martiniacs.) She also gave peanut butter and olive oil permanent spots on her shelves.
Oil-packed tuna made her top ten list, too. I couldn’t picture Julia opening a can of tuna, but she extolled its praises right there on NPR. Not just any tuna, of course, for she found the taste of oil-packed much superior to water-packed. Just drain and rinse it if you’re worried about the calories, she advised.
If it’s good enough for Julia. . . right? I changed my buying habits immediately. Unfortunately, that occurred about the same time all the diet gurus started pushing tuna packed in water. Oil-packed tuna began to disappear from the shelves. Since that time I’ve read that mercury is less apt to be in ‘light’ than ‘solid white.’ Now–at least in the supermarkets I frequent– I must squat to read the fine print on the bottom shelf cans, looking for a brand that satisfies my list of requirements. I’ve found one– Genoa light tuna packed in olive oil –at some stores. Ta DA!!!
One other thing about Julia. . . she who cooked some truly strange dishes with things like tongue, tripe, and other things I didn’t want to know about could name only one food that she detested: cilantro. I pass that on just in case you’re a collector of the obscure.
But back to my can of tuna:
The automated call reported a potential recall because my can of tuna could have soy in it and that if anyone in the family had soy allergies or sensitivities I should return it to the store. Good thing we don’t; the message was old and the tuna long eaten. I can see that someone with potentially fatal allergies would greatly appreciate this service. I appreciated their concern, but at the same time I found it a little eerie.
If they are up on my tuna, they also know I buy fiber pills, Salt & Vinegar potato chips, and wine. Do they have me in the constipated, junk food-eating tippler file? Not only that, but numerous times over the years when the person ahead of me in line didn’t have the magic card to enable them to get the sale price, I’ve handed over mine. Sometimes it’s because they’ve forgotten theirs, but most often it has been paint or landscape crews buying their cigarettes, lunches, or just a few items and have no idea what a VIC card is.
I’ve never checked to see what these people were purchasing. Now I wonder. . . am I also pegged as a sardine and Beanie-Weenie craving smoker? When they analyzed my buying habits did the computer put the Beanie Weenies and the fiber pills together and decide that I needed those store-issued coupons for Bean-no they gave me? And the stop smoking aid coupons? Meant for the painters, no doubt.
I detest those store-issued doohickeys, but have so many on my key chain that it broke. The library, Stein Mart, pet stores, pharmacies, office supply stores, Crabtree & Evelyn. . . everybody wants to know me better and record what I buy. Some of them offer incentives, but many are just nosy and won’t give the sales price without one.
How private IS that information? The Shadow knows whether you dye your own hair, have menstrual periods and/or cramps, own pets, or eat only organic. Thank goodness I have Mark-the-hairstylist, who keeps all color info in his head. No paper trail. If he gets hit by a bus, my hair color goes with him. But my tuna purchases?
The tuna police have my number.