As far back as I can remember, I have loved salad. Mostly I like the taste of vinegar (mmm salt and vinegar chips!). And vinegar is in my favorite salad dressings: Italian, red wine vinaigrette, blush vinaigrette, etc. and sometimes balsamic.
When I was 7, I would beg my grandmother to take me to Ponderosa Steak House, where I could go to the salad bar: pile up the lettuce, cheese, shaved carrots, and drown it in creamy Italian dressing. Mmm.
In college, I loved going to the cafeteria–because it featured what I called the ‘pink dressing’: the best-ever tangy, vinegar-based dressing, which made the meal plan (while I had it) worthwhile. The salad bar at the main cafeteria at graduate school was great, too: ridiculously expensive ($12 for all-you-can-eat at a college cafeteria is a bit much)… but worth it once in a while.
Here in Slovenia, it’s less common to find salad dressings at the store. Sure, you can find them. But my local grocery store only stocks a handful of individual packets in four varieties… sometimes. That’s nothing compared to the whole aisle that’s usually dedicated to salad dressing back home. You can find a bottle or two of a few different varieties at Interspar, the giant grocery store at BTC, the biggest mall/shopping plaza in Europe. But most people just mix oil and vinegar on their salads. Which is nice. But not nearly as nice as the balsamic dressing that comes in the little maroon individual packet for 88 cents.
I eat salad as my dinner at least three or four times a week, with carrots, onions, cheese, chicken, mandarin slices, almonds, and kidney beans, topped off with this delightful balsamic dressing. Yum!
As of late, however, the balsamic dressing is becoming more and more elusive. For example, up until a month or so ago, my neighborhood store stocked it. Granted, I usually bought all the packets they had about once a week, so I probably bought out their yearly stock of balsamic dressing, and now they don’t carry it anymore. There’s just an empty box where the balsamic dressing should be.
This forces me to walk across the city, to Maxi, a department store with a cafe and a grocery store in the basement. It’s a huge grocery store and stocks things that aren’t typically found other places–such as the cheddar cheese I buy for the equivalent of $10, which would cost $2 for the same amount back home. But it’s my favorite kind of cheese, and since they don’t make it here in Slovenia, it’s imported from the U.K. As a once-in-a-while treat, my roommate and I buy it. If you want the white cheddar–not the yellow/orange–it’ll cost nearly double that, though. Sheesh!
In any case, I can always go to Maxi to get the salad dressing packets I want. They always have plenty. And so, I go there each week now, buying a handful.
I went, and I bought everything they had left: 7 dressing packets.
On my way home, I began to wonder: what if that’s it? That’s all they’ve got? What if I am responsible for buying all the balsamic dressing from Maxi, too? Then where will I go? Interspar at BTC? I have to take a bus to get there! And what happens when I inevitably buy them out, too??
Here’s to hoping Maxi restocks before I go there next. Life without balsamic dressing would be horrific.