a little something extra

Monday, September 05, 2005

in praise of Trader Joe's

Let it be known, I am an amateur food person. I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to feed other people. I've never been tempted to take it to a professional level, as my sister Shannon did with great effect, but I thoroughly enjoy the way food can bring people together, or serve as a way that a solitary person can self-parent when necessary.

I have various friends who have lived or now live on the West Coast, and to a person they all sang the praises of Trader Joe's. As much as I resisted making this move to CA, I secretly comforted myself by thinking, "At least I'll get to check out Trader Joe's."

And my wildest expectations have now been exceeded. As my friend Emily put it, "Megan, I think you and TJ's were made for each other." The fresh whole ingredients are terrific, the prices are great, and so far I've been able to resist the blandishments of most of the prepared stuff. Most of. I readily capitulated to the dark-chocolate-covered caramels, and have evil plans to expose my mother to them when she comes to visit. She won't stand a chance.

A weekly-or-so visit to TJ's has become part of my routine. When I walk in there, it reminds me of Wheatsville, the food co-op I belonged to in Austin, and the Wedge, the co-op that was within walking distance of my apartment in Minneapolis. TJ's doesn't go for the world produce the way that the Dekalb Farmer's Market has done, and it's not as obviously upscale as Whole Foods. But between TJ's and the weekly actual farmer's market that happens a couple of miles from my apartment, I am pretty much set for foodstuffs.

I still think it's kind of weird that one can buy hard liquor in any California supermarket. And as time goes on, I hope to start growing some culinary herbs and easily managed veggies on my south-facing balcony. For now, though, I think I'm well taken care of.


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