Don’t judge a book… [updated]

Let me tell you now, so you don’t go wasting your time: the Columbia Heights Target cannot help with your Passover dining needs. They do not have matzah, nor do they bother to brief their employees about this holiday for which millions of Jews will be searching for special food.

I had a rather comical adventure earlier this week when I tried to inquire whether there was a Passover section at my local store in Northwest D.C. The first red-shirted employee I spotted in the food section did not look up when I said “Excuse me?”

I’m pretty soft spoken, so I tried again, closer to him. No response. Just for the heck of it, I waved my hand like I would to get a deaf person’s attention.

Ah ha! He looked up. And he indicated that he was deaf. “Do you sign?” I signed. “Yeah,” he signed back. Great! I thought, Now we’re in business. But he said he didn’t know if they had Passover food, but looked hopeful and indicated another employee stocking the grocery aisles. “He’ll know,” Guy #1 assured me.

The in-the-know guy soon explained that he spoke Spanish and very little English. If I tried to use my very limited Spanish, undoubtedly I’d end up pulling something straight out of a David Sedaris story (“I search for the food of the Jews?” I would say, with a gaurded hope).  Guy #2 helpfully led me around the store in an attempt to find someone else to ask, but we eventually gave up.

So this morning I was off to Giant in the hopes of having better luck with Passover bounty. And I decided to make a plea for a larger organic produce section while I was at it. I wanted to have potatoes, that essential Passover ingredient, in organic and/or local form to kick off the holiday, and the farmers market was still a few days away.

I was directed to the produce manager, who was wearing a Nats cap at a cavalier angle. His obvious zeal for sports–as well as his quarterback build and swagger–suggested he liked to eat further up the food chain, but I decided to ask anyway.

This guy knew everything. He knew what kinds of apples he can get this time of year and when organic grapes will be available. He also said with regret that he could only get the organic green and yellow summer squash, not the winter varieties like butternut.

Great, I thought, but will he take my suggestion? He recalled that he could not get organic potatoes loose, to buy by the pound like the conventional ones. I started to wonder if, like most people, he was happy to talk, but when it came to actually changing the way he did things, the power of inertia would be too great.

But again I was surprised. He pledged to order five-pound bags of red potatoes.* Yes, he’d do that, he said, and he would order them today. And come to think of it, he continued, he’d go ahead and order the Yukon Gold and any other organic potatoes available.


I went on to find some matzah meal, potato pancake mix, and the regular offerings of their 1/2 aisle of kosher goods. That wasn’t bad for a quick, pre-work shopping spree, I decided. I’ll save my request for whole wheat matzah for next time.

*The produce guy came through. The next time I went to Giant, there were 5-pound bags of both red and Yukon Gold potatoes! If you live in the area, go buy some!


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