Sunday, February 20, 2011

Surprise Cans

When I was a kid, Nannu used to give us boxes of unmarked canned foods. These cans were missing their labels for one reason or another, and couldn't be sold at the supermarket where he was assistant manager. My mom called these anonymous foods "surprise cans," and made a game of opening them when preparing dinner. It was like playing roulette to determine the side dish we were having that night. She got pretty good at guessing what was inside by shaking them, like you would a Christmas present, and gauging the sound and viscosity. We'd open them for dessert sometimes too, putting all our chips on my mom's ability to pick out the sliced peaches and fruit cocktail from the baked beans and diced tomatoes.

As a small grocery store proprietor in Detroit, Nannu spent his fair share of time with canned goods. Unpacking, stacking, and forward-facing them; counting them, ordering more, and doing it again. Later, when he worked at the supermarket, he often worked nights, the time when they stocked the shelves. Even his three children all worked at supermarkets for years from an early age. As he was surrounded by the grocery business, I'm not sure when and where Nannu learned this can stacking trick, but I was amused when he showed me one day while we were unpacking groceries at his house. It's actually pretty easy to pull off.

Stacked Cans

3 cans (with or without labels)

1. Place the bottom can on a sturdy surface.
2. While gently holding the remaining two cans, take the top can and lay it sideways on the middle can, resting its bottom in the top lip of the middle can.
3. Place them on the bottom can, leaning them inward against its lip until finding the sweet spot where they balance.

1 comment:

  1. I remember surprise cans too! I loved getting the fruit cocktail ones for dessert! Mom was pretty skilled at picking out what was what...