Thursday, November 24, 2005 | A holiday shopping trip to my local Vons taught me a very important lesson. Over Brussels sprouts and canned cranberry sauce, I realized that life and people are quite wonderful. We are all simply in too much of a rush to see it.

My first stop was Brussels sprouts. Thinking that I was one of a very small percentage of people on the planet who even know what they are, I was totally taken aback when there were none. A very nice clerk found them for me, and I happily rummaged through them all looking for the smallest in the pile.

A voice from behind broke my concentration. “Do you know how to cook these?” the voice asked. “My father-in-law is coming; they are special for him.” I walked the young woman through the selection process and then the cooking process with several alternatives. When I pushed my basket away, she was happily searching the bin for the tiniest ones. I, too, was smiling.

Walking out the door toward my car, I bumped into the dad and his son with the long shopping list. With wide grins, we wished each other greetings of the season. The inner voice came back; this is how life is supposed to be: full of smiles from talking to and helping strangers and just taking the time to enjoy the world around you. Happy Holidays!

Pamela J. Wischkaemper is a local food consultant and is the founder of San Diego Gastronomically Correct, a group that goes on the road twice a year to promote the San Diego restaurant industry. The only criterion for membership is having cooked at the James Beard House in New York. Nineteen chefs in San Diego are members.

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