February is an amazing month for grocery specials. Perhaps to avoid the doldrums of winter, perhaps to get people out shopping even if there are snowdrifts in the streets, the food ads of February provide bargains too good to miss out on.
To begin with, this is Black History Month. As a result, many traditional African American foods-- mustard greens, collard greens and black-eyed peas, for example-- go on sale during February.
It is also the month of the Asian New Year, also known as Tet or Spring Festival, celebrations. Many stores are featuring many Asian foods at a discount, from chow mein noodles to sushi, soy sauce, and frozen Asian dinners.
Then there are the specific holidays, official and unofficial: Superbowl, Mardi Gras and Lent, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. The first week of the month, party and snack foods were on sale everywhere-- chips of all kinds, dips, salsas, avocados for making guacamole, wings and ribs, to name just a few. No one should have gone hungry watching the Big Game.
The original idea behind Mardi Gras-- “fat Tuesday”-- was that people would use up their fatty and indulgent foods before Lent. Nowadays, it is possible to purchase even more of those fatty foods-- on sale-- to use up. Butter, for example, has been on sale in various supermarkets at extremely low prices. You can also purchase king cakes (the plastic baby is usually on the outside so no one will accidentally swallow it), Polish paczki (rich jelly doughnuts, for the uninitiated), and other indulgent foods.
Once Mardi Gras is over, fish is on sale to accommodate those who are planning meatless meals during Lent. Since fish is healthy and low in calories, this may be a good time for eating more of it, so that you can get a head start on losing weight for swimsuit season.
Eating fish is a good way to counteract the effect of all that candy on sale for Valentine’s Day (or reduced in price the day after, while supplies last). Strawberries (from Mexico and South America, like the many of the flowers on sale for this holiday) abound, in case you want to dip them in chocolate. Some stores even offer them already decadently dipped. Champaign is on sale too.
And just in case all that isn’t enough for you, right after Valentine's Day, you will find all kinds of cherry pies and other desserts, like Black Forest Torte, that incorporate cherries, on sale because of President’s Day. (George Washington was rumored to have chopped down a cherry tree, remember?)
Add to that all the “chili fixins” that go on sale in February-- beans, tomatoes, and ground beef-- just in case you’re feeling chilled.
February may be the shortest month, but it’s long on food specials, especially this year.