Chasing the cheese

Andrew is studying Apologia Biology (Jay Wile’s), and he had an ortho appointment in Springfield on Monday.

We have also been slightly adjusting his academic schedule and checklist system, and somehow in the switchover this past weekend, we both assumed he was caught up on his biology lessons, but it turns out that he had four experiments that hadn’t been completed.  So. . . he was looking over them on Sunday – preparing to do them this week, you know – and he saw that some of the necessary items weren’t things we keep on hand.  Specifically, one packet of active dry yeast (yes, we have a bread machine; no, I haven’t been using it because the bread goes bad WAY before the three of us can eat it; yes, we probably still have some bulk bread machine yeast in the fridge; no, I don’t know if it’s still good or how much would equal one packet; so, yes, we’d need to buy that), a few fresh mushrooms, and some camembert or roquefort cheese.

I know where to buy yeast and mushrooms, but camembert or roquefort?!?  Too rich for my blood, for sure, and highly unlikely to be found at Wal-Mart.  But, as I mentioned, we had to go to Springfield on Monday, so all I’d have to do was ask the ortho receptionist for directions to a higher class grocery that carried such items, we’d pick up all three there, go south to McKenna’s for peaches and cantaloupe, and head home.

That was the plan.

We didn’t follow the plan.

For one thing, I forgot to ask the receptionist.  But not to worry.  I was sure there was a Price Cutter on Battlefield, and I was pretty sure it was just west of National.  (The ortho is one block southeast of Battlefield and National.)  So I told my chauffeur to turn west on Battlefield and we’d look for Price Cutter.  We did look.  We looked for a mile or so.  We passed Food 4 Less on the right, but I didn’t think they’d have it.  And we proved that there’s no Price Cutter on Battlefield.

But Andrew spied a Hy-Vee on our left and asked me what I thought.  I didn’t know what I thought, but it was a big grocery, so it had potential, and we pulled in.  Hy-Vee is HUGE.  It seemed as big as a Wal-Mart supercenter, and it was ALL FOOD.  Fairly highly priced food, but it was big and full and clean and nice.  And, off to the right was the deli, and in big groceries, delis tend to have island cases out front that contain really expensive things like cheeses.  Sure enough, this deli was obviously placed there for us by God himself, because it had its own “specialty cheese” DEPARTMENT!  What a score!

We scanned all the little triangular packages and boxes and lovely displays of every kind of cheese known to man and then some, but alas, we could not find any camembert or roquefort.  I then asked the friendly deli lady and she said, “Oh!  you’ll find that on aisle 16 or 17.  We have both of those over there.”  I thanked her, and noted that aisles 16 and 17 were maximally distant from the deli, so being close to produce, we picked up three nice mushrooms (this store had not one, not two, but three types of loose bulk mushrooms), found our way to baking ingredients and nabbed a packet of yeast, and headed to aisle 16.

It was one of TWO packaged cheese aisles.  Impressive.  And again, you could have cheddar, gouda, limberger, parmesan in many forms, bleu, brie, feta, goat cheese of all kinds, many others that I have never heard of (and this was NOT even the specialty cheese department!!!), but no roquefort and no camembert.

I meandered over to aisle 17 where the packaged cheese continued.  Again we scanned ourselves bug-eyed.  Again we failed to locate our elusive quarry.  I looked around for an employee and found a fine young man several aisles over dealing with boxes of cream cheese (yes, that was on yet another aisle; probably about 19).  He was polite and personable and when I told him my desire, he came back to aisle 16 and looked where we had been looking.  He asked if it usually came in a tub or in a block, and I had to confess that I had no earthly idea, that I had never bought it before, and that, indeed, I was not even going to eat it; it was to be used for a science experiment.

He kept looking unsuccessfully for several minutes until another employee came by who did the same, and then a lady customer, who had overheard our conversations, said she knew where camembert was!  Wonderful!  She took us all (two employees, Andrew and me) back to aisle 17 and showed us a place on a shelf that said camembert and had a round box above the label.  She victoriously lifted down the box and we all saw that sure enough, right there in front of God and everyone was. . . a round of brie.  Aw, shucks.  Clearly, some inattentive stocker – or customer? – had shelved the poor brie incorrectly.

But this kind lady was not to be deterred.  She then informed me that she knew for a fact that the Brown Derby on Glenstone, between Seminole and Sunshine – but closer to Seminole, mind you – stocked a wide variety of specialty cheese, including camembert.  Hmmm. . . I thought on this fact for a moment, and sure enough, it registered in my mind that Brown Derby was a liquor store.  I thanked the lady, and we two took leave of the other three (the cream cheese stocking employee graciously apologizing for not having been able to help me), and I said to Andrew, “I am just not going to go shopping in a liquor store for cheese for a science experiment.  Besides, that store is way north, almost up to Dad’s work.  I have my limits.  You may have to skip this experiment.  Let’s just go home.”  Andrew was more than fine to skip an experiment, so we paid for our mushrooms and yeast and left.

The thing about Hy-Vee is that it’s basically at the corner of Battlefield and Kansas Expressway, so the best way to go home is to go south on Kansas to the James River Freeway then east to 65 south.  But with four lanes of traffic each way and strategically positioned stop lights, that’s easier said than done.  So we weaseled our way around to get out onto Battlefield, and while we waited for the light to change, we noticed that right in front of us, across the street, sat a large supermarket called Dillon’s.  Interesting.

Well, we were looking for a big grocery, and Dillon’s was right in front of us, so, what the hey, into Dillon’s we went.  It wasn’t quite as luxurious as Hy-Vee had been, but it was pretty nice and of a good size, and every single employee was wearing an extremely bright royal blue shirt that said in large white letters, “I’m here to help you!”  So I went up to one fellow and asked him where the deli was, and he looked at me like I had two horns growing out of my head and pointed to the back left corner.  To which we walked.  But on the way to the deli, we passed a freezer case containing juice concentrates.

Some readers may be familiar with the sad fact that in the Branson area, one can no longer buy Welch’s White Grape Peach juice concentrate.  This is a favorite in our family, and for the past couple months it has been non-existent at Wal-Mart, Harter House, and Country Mart.  Mournful, that is.  So on a lark, I paused and perused the Dillon’s frozen juice concentrate selection, and there sat ten cans of the stuff!!  I sent Andrew back to the front for a cart.  What a score!

We proceeded to the deli area, and, lo and behold, in front of the deli was a specialty cheese island, and bent over the island was a lady stocking specialty cheeses.  Now this was great!  We wouldn’t have to spend a lot MORE time doing our own paltry search.  She asked what we were looking for, and I told her.  And she shook her head sadly.  “I’m very sorry.  We don’t stock camembert or roquefort, but the store (Dillon’s) on East Sunshine has a much larger specialty cheese department, and they do.”  Sigh.

We thanked her, paid for our juice, and left.

I really wanted to go back home, but what the heck.  We had come this far in our quest for camembert or roquefort; we might as well hit Dillon’s on East Sunshine.  So we tooled back east on Battlefield, north on Glenstone to Sunshine, and east on Sunshine – right past Scott’s work – to Dillon’s.  And this Dillon’s did indeed have a larger specialty cheese selection, and as we rounded its third cheese island, Andrew triumphantly handed me a very small triangular wedge marked, “roquefort.”  We then hit the bakery  for two donuts to celebrate our success, took our roquefort to the front, AND LOOKED AT THE PRICE!!!  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This tiny, lightweight chunk of cheese was imported from a French sheep, at a cost to us Ozarkians of – and no, I’m not exaggerating – $20.99/pound!!!!!

And we’re not even going to eat it. I sure hope it looks good under a microscope.

So put that in your education budget, and thank God for the freedom to homeschool!



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