I'm a grocery sIut, I admit it.


I know I'm deranged. You probably think I am deranged. Well, I'm going to explain to you why your hunch, as regards my insanity, is correct.

I now shop for foodstuffs--regularly--at FOUR separate places. One is one of them warehouse clubs, where I buy things like Raisin Bran by the silo, crates of San Pellegrino, half-wheels of imported Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto from San Daniele, real Italian pasta and (believe it or else) many of my fave wines. (I also buy pallet loads of batteries, drums of kid's bath gel, and columns of paper towels, etc.)

The next place I shop is "the regular supermarket." This is where I go and get things such as rice, assorted pulses, whatever the Hell bizarro cereal my kids are into this month, ice cream and the like. No, I don't shop at Wal-Mart. Not because totally unbiased and perfectly objective websites with names like www.WalMartIsSatanicAndTotallyEvil.com tell me to avoid it on the perfectly sensible grounds they offer to pay immigrants $0.23 an hour and, instead, strap them to a Catherine Wheel and zap them in the nuts--regardless of whether they have any!--with a cattle prod as they abjure collective bargaining; or because Wal-Mart fuckin' censors, man, by not carrying things they don't feel like but www.WalMartIsFuckingShreddingTheBillOfRights.com thinks they should. No, I avoid Wal-Mart because their selection is dreck, they are not so damned cheap and it's too damned far.

Next is my upmarket supermarket. In this place I buy a lot of poultry, live shrimp (yes!) and other crustaceans, bizarro beers, pretty excellent wines, the better sorts of artisanal pasta*, interesting and authentic ethnic ingredients, artisanal breads and organic produce.

The last place is the Hoity-Toity food shop. This is the one spot where even a not-overburdened plastic grocery bag will have resulted in a $50 hole in your wallet. I go to get only the stuff I cannot find anywhere else. "O" Lime (or Lemon) Infused EVOO? Got it. Tiny Trapeze Organic Marshmallows? Yep. REAL fresh** pasta? Uh huh. Sun-dried tomato paste? Callebaut Cocoa Powder? Sure! Organic NON-ultra pasteurized milk? Hell, yeah. Prime beef? Of course. 7 different varieties of garlic? Absolutely? This is like a small, self-contained Whole Foods/Wild Oats (both of which are too far away). They even have an actual Japanese sushi chef making stuff right there with unbelievably fresh fish. Actually, the fishmonger guy is another Japanese guy who gets mad if you ask for anything that wasn't swimming a half-hour ago and his accent gets more impenetrable the more rattled he gets. They also have killer to-go lunches.

So how does this work out, in practical terms? Glad you asked. I'll give you an example.

Tonight for dinner we had grilled shrimp and pasta. The shrimp were live shrimp, and the heads/shells all went to make a killer seafood stock for another application another day. I basted them with Lemon-infused EVOO, a mix of dried herbs (marjoram, oregano, thyme), black pepper, sea salt and a bit of hardneck garlic (I like the purple skinned ones). The pasta was a black (i.e., squid-ink) spaghetti, the sauce made of organic, aseptic Italian tomatoes, sharp EVOO, Gaeta olives, red pepper flakes, organic "Italian Flat" onions (i.e. cipolle, albeit grown in GA), and anchovy paste (the good stuff...what? Shaddup, Duane).

When my wife sees me at this she always has that look of "Well, boil the pasta in Evian, why don't you?" but seeing as how in 12+ years of marriage she has yet to cook her first meal, I suspect she keeps her counsel. None of this could have been made the way I would prefer if I hadn't shopped at all four stores. The lucky thing for me was that I stopped one day at the Hoity Toity food emporium, out of desperation, mostly. My upmarket supermarket had just been remodeled and a lot of my favorite products and brands (say, Flora sun-dried tomatoes in EVOO) just up and disappeared. Some I haven't been abe to replace, but most I have. Sure, now they cost a lot more, because the Hoity Toity place has hoity-toity rents and no economies of scale, but there you are.


* We love pasta. Bugger off Atkins.
** Fresh meaning "made that day" and only from organic flour and organic eggs.


BabelBabe said…
I can totally see you boiling the pasta in Evian - was that supposed to be *funny*?

If it makes you feel any better, we also shop for groceries and stuff at three different places (Reg. grocery store, Whole Foods, and the weekly farmers' markets), plus the community agriculture co-op we belong to which delivers produce to our door weekly, according to what's in season, all summer and autumn long. Oh, and the Strip District for salami - because Parma salami is the only kind we'll eat....oh, and the Italian deli for their lunchmeats, bread, and canned anchovy-like foodstuffs. Sheesh - that's alot of places. Wish I hadn't thought about it).

I refuse to do the warehouse/Sam's Club thing - I have had several bad experiences there in the past, due to the sub-average intelligence of various checkout clerks, so now I avoid them like the plague and suck it up and buy paper towels at Giant Eagle.

So we are using up natural gas resources to satisfy our food-snobbishness. Nice environmentalists, hmmm? Just wanted you to know you're not alone in the insanity...
Joke said…
Dammit. I forgot the Farmers Market. That's five. The warehouse club place we like is NOT Sam's Club (been in one, twice, meh...to far away for just a "meh"). I couldn't give you my reading on the intelligence of their average clerk because, other than at checkout, there are none with whom to interact. Even if I wanted to, which I do not.

Now, I am not an environmentalist (having a car for strictly fr driving pleasure is, I'm sure, an immediate disqualifier) but I manage to get to these places as part of my weekly routine. Not because I'm an EarthFirst! type, but because I am a cheap bastard.

Badger said…
Um, dude? You forget who's reading this blog. I would venture to say MOST of your blogging pals routinely shop at four or more different food stores.
If that's deranged, then I don't wanna be ... uh, whatever the opposite of deranged is.
Joke said…
Badge said:
If that's deranged, then I don't wanna be ... uh, whatever the opposite of deranged is.



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