The Art of Shopping for Produce

Written By

Indira Anand

The art of shopping for produce Loading

My father was a man of substance. An influential and inspiring presence in my life. And he did everything with style and panache. Everything he did felt like art, and today I talk about his art of shopping for produce.

Among his many accomplishments in life as a businessman, philanthropist, husband, father, son and all the other roles that life asked him to play; he was also an excellent cook in his own right.

My memories of childhood are filled with memories of Amma and Appa getting up bright and early when even the sun was contemplating whether it was time to rise. And together, before the rest of our fairly large household would even rub the sleep out of their eyes, they both would have dished up breakfast and lunch for all. They had a method. Appa would cut up all the vegetables, grind up the ingredients necessary and Amma would then do final assembly. It was the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen!

It’s no surprise then that he also took on the job of buying fruit and vegetables for the household. Those were my college days — I was studying for my B. Com. degree, learning about computers and programming as well as working part-time in Appa’s office to apply my computer skills in a live environment.

And so it was that for three years of my life I got to go back home with my father, since  my routine was college > computers > Appa’s office > home.

We would stop at the station on the way home and pick up fruits and vegetables. I didn’t know it then, but I was getting the education of a lifetime — not at the college or at the computer institute— but right there by my father in that bustling market.

He had a method to this also like everything else he did in life. First insult the vendor, then once the latter was suitably riled up and defensive, praise one of the other items and turn him into putty. Then prepare the final attack! It never failed. He always got good produce and great discounts.

As he closely examined each vegetable, he would carry on a running commentary with me. What to look for, what’s good, what’s bad. And his skills in buying produce showed in the final cooked product too.

So many years have passed since that experience. But every single memory remains fresh as if it happened yesterday. Appa fondly called me Mona. And to this day when I go shopping for fruit and vegetables, I can feel him right next to me, guiding me. I am transported right back to that bustling market in Kandivali, that overweight vendor balancing himself on a tiny stool, Appa towering above everything; glowering and grinning alternately.

“Tomatoes should be firm, Mona! Not too hard, not too soft.”

“Look at that shiny apple; how tempting it looks? Don’t buy it! He’s waxed it to look fresh, it must be last week’s unsold produce.”

“Do you see that misshaped brinjal? That’s because a worm went in while the brinjal was still growing.”

 “Always buy potatoes of the same size. That way they will cook evenly in the pressure cooker.”

I didn’t know just how much of his knowledge I had absorbed and inherited. Until the day my niece, who was going back to India for further studies (we live in Dubai) wanted to spend time with me before she left. And one of the most important things she wanted to do was learn how to pick good fruits and vegetables.

I can hear you laughing heartily Appa! Yes, your legacy lives on.




Indira is 40 years old and settled in Dubai for the last 18 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations with a leading airline. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, traveling the world and other creative pursuits like knitting stuffed toys, clay modeling, drawing and painting. With her husband working in a furniture factory, Indira has the unique advantage of imagining a home improvement and actually having it come to life as imagined! A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she also writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. Catch her blog at

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