Rumination 69: It’s All Leek to Me

A poorly-drawn leek

Continuing the retail-focused theme for rumination this week—let’s face it, I overthink a lot stuff at the shops—Natasha and I made a quick trip to Aldi on the weekend, after we had visited Coles and Country Grocer, where we buy our fruit and veggies.

I’ve long been a fan of the Aldi checkout experience, as they approach bagging with ruthless German efficiency. Yes, say ‘hello’ and be polite, but don’t linger for too long or expect someone to pack your bags for you. Not to mention, if things get really busy, they very quickly open another checkout lane to deal with the crowds, then close it when everyone has been addressed. They mean business.

As Natasha and I visit three different supermarkets in the one centre each week, we always display the printed receipts on top of the relevant bags in our trolley, just to show that we’re not dishonest or hardened grocery thieves. This time at Aldi, as the staff member behind the space-age, anti-COVID-19 super-sneezeguard finished scanning all of our items, she turned to me and said, ‘May I see your receipts for those other groceries, please?’. Natasha and I instantly flashed the two pieces of paper in her face.

She then continued, ‘Oh wow, that was quick, you must be used to doing that!’. After running her eyes over the receipts, she said, ‘Ah OK, there they are! Those leeks in your trolley look a lot like the ones that we have here’. We subsequently completed the transaction, said ‘thanks’ and left the shop.

As we walked through the centre to reach the car park, Natasha and I discussed this comment about similar-looking leeks, feeling somewhat baffled. There was no packaging or labelling on the leeks that we purchased so that certainly was not the reason for leek-theft suspicion. She must have thought that the leeks themselves looked the same.

Following this, we wondered, ‘How much variation could there possibly be between leek varieties at Australian supermarket retailers?’. Indeed, the leeks did look the same, as they are leeks! We had also purchased capsicums, mushrooms, apples, oranges and other fruit and veggies at Country Grocer before arriving at Aldi and I can tell you, having walked past the equivalent products at our final food destination, they all looked the same too.

Perhaps the next time that we visit Aldi, if I see the same person, I may have to strike up a conversation about the aesthetic similarities between varieties of this edible, elongated cylindrical bulb within the genus Allium—to which the beloved onion also belongs. Furthermore, we may even have to conduct a detailed analysis of said leeks, to measure the extent to which the vegetable’s flat leaf-sheaths overlap each other, when compared to samples from competing retailers. To conclude, depending on the enthusiasm of the Aldi staff member and their willingness to waste (undoubtedly measured) time at the checkout, we could even explore the history of this vegetable and its noble status as the Welsh national emblem.

Until then, it’s all leek to me.