All I Wanted Was Some Turkey

In Forbes’ most recent listing of the richest counties in the U.S., Williamson County–home of Franklin–was ranked No. 16. I blame that ranking for the following exchange at the grocery store this morning.

I was standing at the deli counter at Publix. A large man next to me ordered a pound of pepperoni and some other meat that ended in “ola.”

“You making stromboli or calzone?” the deli man said.

The customer replied that he was making neither and he mentioned another dish. He went on to say that he just couldn’t get good meat down here like he could up north, on Long Island. Turns out that both of the men behind the counter were from Long Island as well.

They talked for a bit about the lack of good meat down here, listing several others ending in “ola” that I was unfamiliar with. The customer said that “the guineas” really know how to cook. I had to look up guinea on Urban Dictionary…here’s what it said: 

The most vile racial slur that can be used against an Italian-American.

When it was my turn, I said “wow, I never heard of half the things y’all’re talking about. I’ll take a half pound of pepper turkey.”

The other customer turned to me and said (loudly): “Yeah, the food up north is much better.”

“Ok,” I thought. “I don’t remember asking your opinion, but whatever.”

“Yeah,” he continued, “lots better.”

“It’s different,” I said. “Not better.”

“No,” he replied. “Definitely better. It’s more diverse. There’s no diversity here. Nothing Italian.”

I shrugged, took my turkey and left. But in my mind, this is what I said:

“If you can’t live without Italian meat, then you probably should’ve thought twice before moving to a small Southern town. If you want diversity, then shut up and move out of your McMansion. I can show you some diversity, right here in the 16th richest county in the nation. I bet you’re just too busy whinning about deli meats to go find it. You know what else, I bet there are a lot of things that are better on Long Island…but there’s one thing I can guarantee you that we have in abundance and that’s manners. For you to dismiss nearly 300 years of culture with one offhand remark displays just how shockingly ignorant you are. Please go home.

Yep. That’s what I said in my mind.

19 Comments

Filed under At Home

19 responses to “All I Wanted Was Some Turkey

  1. My best replies are always in my mind, and usually later that night, in bed. It’s very frustrating.
    You touched a nerve here with your “Go home” response, but I realise it’s in context, and the nerve touched is all mine.

  2. Congratulations on your handling of the situation. Much better to buy turkey than to argue with one. I hope you don’t have to encounter him regularly.

    (By the way, I love pepper turkey! )

  3. Maybe those guys will have a big plate of eb”ola” for dinner. Justice! We here in the tri-state area thank you for taking these charming men off of our hands.

    All of my most clever retorts arise six days after the fact.

  4. Wait a minute, hold the phone! Are you trying to tell me that you overheard a conversation between two former New Yorkers, and they were rude, condescending and dismissive of everyone and everything else that wasn’t near and dear to them?!?

    Ma’am, I believe you are a liar. A New Yorker would never act in such a crude, self-absorbed manner!

    Oh wait, sorry. That’s EXACTLY what would happen.

    Unlike my beloved Boston where everyone is saintly, accepting and oblivious to the letter “R.”

  5. Mongoliangirl

    Damn HIFfy! You are no joke. When I (half Southern compared to you) spent one year in Wisconsin there were tons of those cheese heads who just HAD to tell me, “Wisconsin was never a slave state,” and then give me some kind of look as if they were sure I’d brought slaves with me to their perfect state. In the meantime, I watched some of the most heinous walls ever between the majority of minorities and decent living space and employment. Systematic and unbelievable.

  6. I’m going to chalk this up in the WIN category. For me, because we (NY) got rid of that asshole. Thanks for the favor.

  7. sounds to me like you got two kinds of turkey… one of the pressed meat variety and one of the walking and talking variety!

  8. The irony is that having italian ingredients doesn’t equate to diversity. By its very nature you need to have lots of different things to create diversity.

    What he meant was, he can’t get what he wanted and that’s totally different than the choice not being diverse.

    I guess another thing you have in the 16th richest county is some out-of-state idiots ruining the atmosphere.

    I think manners are far more important than deli meats anyway, so you totally win this one.

  9. Robbi

    Well, urban dictionary is wrong…that isn’t the most vile thing you can call another Italian…but it’s not a term of endearment either 😉

    Those gentleman must not have done much looking around Nashville because we have found Corrieri’s Formaggeria, Savarino’s Cucina, and Coco”s Italian Market in Nashville.

    You can’t get good barbecue in the Tri State area, but you can get lots of things that aren’t available here (Portuguese, British, Polish, Russian, etc.) But there’s way better Mexican and Cajun in the South.

    Now I’m going to be the Devil’s Advocate here: I love, love, love living here! I love the people, and the lifestyle & the schools and the fact that my kids could grow up at an appropriate pace (i.e. not too fast.) But if I run into someone from the NJ area, the conversation turns to food in about 5 seconds. And we talk about what we can’t get here. And I tell them about Mineo’s on Carothers because Papa John’s is NOT real pizza. And about Molinari’s because real Italian food shouldn’t come from a chain restaurant (actually no authentic food should come from a chain restaurant, but that’s another comment 😉 And it’s not a slam on WC & TN, but it’s that whole “oh, we have a common language” kind of thing. And food is super important to Italians…look at every stereotypical Italian grandmother 🙂

    When we go back to visit family, we have a list of things we have to eat while we’re there. And we enjoy them all with much gusto. And about day 3, when I realize how much I don’t enjoy being flipped off in traffic, and listening to mothers scream inappropriate things at their small children, and being shocked at the Shop Rite that the cashier doesn’t even make eye contact during my transaction, I look at my husband and the kids & say “thanks for the relo! I’m ready to go home to TN.” ‘Cause the best pizza, italian ice and chinese food can’t make up for the difference in the quality of life between here and there.

  10. Char

    Last August I went with 2 girlfriends to Chicago, and I met some friends of a friend. After getting to know one another and after a few cocktails, one of the men asked,”So-do you have good meat in Utah?” It became the running joke of our trip. Everytime we would meat someone from a different state or different country, we would ask them if they had good meat! I guess if a place doesn’t have ‘good meat’ than it is not worthy of a visit. Next time I plan a trip, it will be my first inquiry.

  11. You’re a better (wo)man than I, Gunga Din. The saddest part of aging (besides the beginnings of a turkey wattle, I mean) is that my filter seems to be eroding. Not every battle needs to be fought–I don’t want to end up one of those old people who’s constantly charging up Hamburger Hill, you know?

    I realize there’s a special place in our hearts for our hometowns–there’s nothing wrong with that. But some folks need to come to terms with the fact that every town is home to someone. So if you can’t say something nice, blah blah blah.

    Besides, I’ve never understood why so many people are so willing to live in places they hate–places they clearly feel are deserving of nothing but their disdain. A part of me thinks they stay simply to have something to whine/complain about (and perhaps a way to rationalize a superiority complex of sorts?).

    As far as I’m concerned, though, if one moves someplace and discovers it isn’t to one’s liking, one really should piss the fuck(ola) off.

  12. I’ll admit that the #1 thing I complain about with regards to living here is food-related. But it’s not in a condescending way, just in a I-really-wish-there-was-better (or more)-Tex-Mex/restaurants open later/cheap ethnic restaurants/places to get dessert after dinner/breakfast tacos. But it is different and not necessarily better or worse. Houston didn’t have meat-n-three or as much pork BBQ. It isn’t the kind of food I grew up with, but it’s good in it’s own way. If you could get everything you wanted everywhere, what would be the point in going somewhere different?

  13. PG–I feel certain that you’re a model citizen in your adopted home. I’m truly sorry that I touched a nerve…I hope it’s better now.
    Merrily–Welcome to Franklin and thanks for the comment. I could’ve gotten into it with him, but I’ll just feel superior instead.
    UB–You sure you don’t want him back? I think he may have been a Buttafuco.
    DF–That guy was “wicked rude.” (Isn’t that how you’d say it Boston?)
    MG–Yeah, good thing you left your slaves at home. Just think of the ruckus that would’ve caused!
    Dingo–I imagine you still have plenty to go around. 🙂 We have our own fair share too, though.
    MA–Turkey isn’t quite the descriptive phrase that comes to mind. 🙂
    Beth–Exactly! What’s so diverse about always eating Italian???
    Robbi–You’re completely fair on all counts and I am with you one hundred percent when it comes to chains. I’ve been meaning to check out Mineos and will give it a try. I am definitely glad for your relo too–your family is a great addition to Franklin.
    Char–I heard that if you want good meat in Utah, you have to go to McDonalds. Is that true? 🙂
    Elise–I’m sure his job brought him here. He’d never live here willingly, I bet. And you’re right, every town is someone’s hometown. I need to remind myself of that more often.
    Kira–In no way am I defending the superiority of our food…I admit it leaves a lot to be desired in many areas. But that’s what travel is all about…getting out and tasting new things. (Even sea urchin in Tokyo!)

  14. Ask him if they have country bacon and smoked ham steak up north.

  15. pr9000

    You have to be open to the foods that are popular where you live. Except for lutefisk – when I lived in Minnesota, I had to draw the line there. Now I’m trying to appreciate pulled pork.

  16. I enjoyed your post, and then the comments as much as the story! Keep ’em coming….

  17. You have to judge a place by its restaurants. If there’s no good food, then the place is no good.

    But, and these guys should be told, there are definitely more kinds of food than Italian.

  18. It sounds a lot like how I feel when I get into culinary conversations with Spaniards. They always end up telling me (despite probably never even visiting) that in the U.S. we eat ‘trash food’ where ‘everything is frozen’ and that ‘Spaniards have the best diet in the world’.

    I’m always amazed at how much they know about my country based on the fact that a couple of Burger Kings took up shop in their neighborhood.

  19. Yvonne

    I just have to say, when you walk up after a conversation that two people were having and make a comment on it you should expect a reply. Not saying that the gentle man wasn’t rude, eating just Italian is not diverse at all. I will say the food here is different that up north (I’m from NY- not the city), but that does not mean that here isn’t good food here. I have found some of the best pull pork and to try new things is the best. Like Robbie, I make my list of food to eat when I’m back home. I will also say that I don’t like everything in this state, but I didn’t like everything in NY either. Also, there are some rude people up there, but sense I have moved here I have not scene the whole southern hospitality thing all the time either. OH, and Daddy Files, not everyone from NY is rude and condescending.

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