Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sago Saga

Last Friday it began.

After we'd both finished work, SJ & I headed to the supermarket to do a "staples shop", where we purchase all those staple items one should always have in the pantry, stockpiled, ready to use at any moment. SJ & I do one of these every month or so as we find this is a great way to save on food costs since there's always something to eat in the cupboard.

When I was writing up the shopping list on the Thursday evening prior to the shop, I noticed my supply of sago had become drastically low: I had barely a tablespoon worth of seeds remaining, so onto the list it went.

Now, in the past I have never had any problem finding sago in the supermarket, but I have to admit it has been at least 12 months since I last had to purchase any. The great thing about sago is that it is inexpensive and a little always goes a long way, and if kept in an airtight container it doesn't expire. It was a popular dessert when I was growing up, my nanna making it regularly and serving it with stewed fruit, rhubarb or simply with a bit of milk and sugar. My mum would make a fluffy sago pudding in the microwave, light and sweet. It has remained one of my favourite desserts and for me, sago is a staple item. I simply couldn’t imagine life without it.

No, seriously. I couldn't. Some people need chocolate to survive, I need sago.

So, you could imagine my surprise (and horror) at being unable to find it in the supermarket last Friday evening. I have always been able to locate it in the section where they stock things like rice cream and maple syrup, somewhere between the canned fruit and the dessert items, on one of the bottom shelves in simple packaging that proclaims either “SAGO” or “SEED TAPIOCA (*SAGO)”. But it wasn’t there. I frantically searched every row, checked every empty space, every tag: NO SAGO.

Assuming the supermarket-powers-that-be had moved it elsewhere I started a store-wide search of the most obvious places I could think of. I even asked one of their employees where I might find it, but they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about and I’d lost the patience to explain it to them.

Because if you don’t already know what sago is then you don’t deserve to know!

SJ & I finished the shopping, with me grumbling under my breath something about the stupid supermarket having hundreds of different kinds of Tim Tams but not a single bag of sago. But then on the drive home I thought I’d come up with a solution: The local IGA. Only a small supermarket in our tiny town, but where a lot of elderly people do their grocery shopping, and the elderly eat sago.

Or so I assume.

So, first thing Saturday morning I sent SJ down to the IGA (I was still in my pyjamas) to bring me home some sago. He assures me he checked the shelves in the space between the canned fruit and the desserts and found the tag on the shelf where the sago should be but alas! there was no sago! So he headed to the front counter and asked the girl if they had any sago out back since there wasn’t any on the shelf. Apparently, the only sago they have in stock at any one time would be on the shelf. Clearly the elderly had beat me to it.

Or is there some kind of worldwide sago shortage that I don't know about?

I am now on a continuing hunt for sago and when I find some I’m going to buy enough to last me a century. Of course, now that I know I don’t have any I really, really, really want it. I’m dreaming of fluffy sago puddings and the day I can make this rhubarb and sago combination.

We’re calling it The Sago Saga of 2012, SJ and I, although I suspect SJ says it in jest. I, on the other hand, am entirely serious.


  1. Sago! I loved it growing up, but I haven't had I was ten or so. But now, since you've mentioned it, I have a craving.... Hopefully the shortage (or non-existence!) hasn't reached Canberra. I will check on Monday and report back ;)

  2. I have also encountered problems with finding sago in the supermarket. It is not where you would expect it to be as I recall. Cant remember where exactly though. Will have a think about it and if I find some I will grab it for you...


  3. What a sad state of sago!
    Do you have an asian grocer near you? they usually have sago in stock.

  4. Perhaps once you find it again you could plant some in your garden to make sure you have a ready supply independent of apparently unreliable sources. After all, someone must grown the stuff - why not you!

  5. Mrs A: I'll be very interested to hear of your endeavours to locate sago in Canberra. I wonder if it can be purchased online?

    Mum: I suspect the supermarkets have changed the location of the sago, I just have to find it. But supermarkets have a tendancy not to think logically, so what should be an obvious place is not.

    Alain: There is no Asian grocery locally. The supermarket provides an "Asian foods" section, which is really rather meagre but I checked it anyway. No luck.

    StoneZebra: I investigated growing it, as suggested. It's a tropical plant, a cycad. Needs to be kept permanently moist, especially during hot weather, which is an impossibility in our dry climate. Also, I read domestic sago plants rarely produce viable seeds (the seeds being the sago). :(


  6. I am pretty sure I have never, ever eaten Sago and I have no idea if it is on the shelves of the stores here

  7. oooh now you've got me wanting some. I feel like I've seen it in those fancy cafes that sell extra things like pink salt flakes. you'll have to post your microwave recipe.


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