Thoughts on Life

Supermarket Aisle King #001

An extraordinary number of words on saffron butter, welcome!
by Leandra Medine Cohen
If you buy something, I might earn a commission.

I’ve recently developed this habit where I go to grocery stores just to browse the aisles -- it’s like window shopping at a fancy boutique but better because the product that sits on shelves is less expensive (most of the time) and more ephemeral. Very good for a risk-averse risk-taker who chalks this quality up to her Gemini rising sign.

My kids are not Geminis, but they are twins, which seems related?

I guess it — supermarket aisle sweeping — is more like window shopping at a fast-fashion store than anything else given the similarly timed shelf lives and price points and the way they hang over aisles inviting consumption.

Can you even believe some frozen food lasts longer than a t-shirt from some places? This is probably what my therapist would call, “a closed question.”

On the plus side for the supermarket: if and when you buy something, the artifact is to be consumed. Like, by your mouth. You buy it, you eat it, you finish it, you’re full. It’s so efficient -- you know? 

But I think I’m digressing. The point I really want to make is that perusing the aisles in a grocery store has become this new kind of pastime. I make excuses to go to Fairway or Eli’s or Whole Foods or this dramatically expensive Italian market on 84th street called “Gentiles” (the irony!) and call the excursions my grande sorties. I get dressed up, slap on a mask, sometimes plug in my earbuds to listen to a podcast or to ~phone a friend~ and then I go. I go until I get there, then enter through the revolving doors that hold the infinite culinary possibilities — dying pipedreams I don’t often actualize — that await me on the other side.

One such outfit for the grand sortie.

I’ll typically start in the canned fish section looking for well-designed tins to bring home and leave out on my white kitchen counters because it is depressing when they’re bare even though my earth sign husband loves a minimalist surface as much as Phoebe Philo did.

Inevitably I finish the sardines within an hour.

Are you even actually supposed to eat these?

But ugh, they’re so good on buttered toast!


I was at Whole Foods on Christmas Eve buying something stupid from the non-dairy dairy section when I came across a panoply of herbed butter that was eerily reminiscent of this one my friend had made the week before on the occasion of my birthday. They were served on focaccia with salty ass anchovies on top and when I asked him where he bought the butter he was like, “I made it” to which I rolled my eyes with the same contempt that overcame me the first time I ever encountered a pair of distinctly perfect, mid-rise, medium wash Levi’s 501 jeans -- button fly and all! The person who was wearing them told me they were vintage.

Of course they were vintage. Such perfect pants are always 1OAK.

Anyway, the butter flavors at Whole Foods were: Saffron, Lavender, Oregano and Basil. I wanted to buy all four but from my thorough experience of overdoing things that I consider underrated, I was knocked back into sense and told, as if by divine prophecy: “Start with one!”

And so I did. Start with one, I mean.

The butter in Q.

It was the saffron flavor. I don’t know why I am like a venus fly trap to saffron. Maybe it’s because my mom is Persian and I grew up eating it on everything, chicken kebabs, various permutations of rice, ICE CREAM notwithstanding.

I brought it home and put it on this grain-free toast that I buy for Abie because he is steadfast in his quest to never eat another grain again. It didn’t go so well, I immediately regretted the decision to buy it and said to myself, Self, I knew we should have gotten the lavender. It’s a thing I do! Second guess myself and then assume the decision I did not make would have been better than the one I did. But I am resilient, you know, or at least I am learning that I can be whatever I want to be and resilient is up there, so I smacked my self-flagellation across the face and toasted another slice of bread -- this time regular cinnamon raisin (from Pep’s farm) and let me tell you, the combination of saffron butter on warm cinnamon toast was like…

It was like…

Like a seductive morning-after a Jewish wedding in Great Neck.

The following day, I was making pancakes for my kids and thought, why not throw sum saffron butter onto the pan in lieu of coconut oil -- so I did and you know what? I burned the butter.

But then! On the second go, after I put oil in the pan and then just like, melted the butter in the pan, very good pancakes were born. To be clear, these weren’t luxurious pancakes -- I use Birch Bender paleo mix (just! add! water!) and this butter gave them a little pizzazz. I mean, pizzzzzzzahhhhhhhhzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Like a fancy pearl necklace with a diamond clasp to accompany your grey Champion sweatshirt, you know?

Good plate, no? Platera! I found the brand on Instagram, through Blanca Miro.

Later that night, I was cooking white rice and listening to Flamingo Serenade on Spotify when I looked to my left, looked to my right, and eureka’ed the fuck out at the contents of my fridge -- pulled out that saffron butter and mixed a generous dollop into the white rice. This experience, upon consumption, was like the main event at the aforementioned wedding. Madelaur liked it too. Jigar!

“Jigar” is the farsi word for, technically, pig liver. But it also means cute — like, my aunts use this term to describe my kids.

What else can I tell you, what else? Ah, yes! You know what? I made some eggs in it (the saffron butter). Slapped those eggs on a slice of milk bread from ACQ and let me tell you, the marriage gave me enough arrogance, audacity and CHUTZPAH to tell you that I! Have! Advice! On! Stuff! I! Know! Nothing! About!

Bought this plate on Instagram

But then again, who the fuck knows anything? Such is life, and life is rich. 

Welcome to a new series called Supermarket Aisle King.

Franchise logo by Ana Tellez, who knows more than a thing or two about toast.