(This is the second installment in a five part series all about my history with food. The first installment is here.)
When I was little, I spent a lot of time at the grocery store with my mother. Not a lot of time shopping, mind you, but a lot of time standing in the aisles, watching my mom talk to friends she ran into (she still does this).
Of course, grocery stores in the early 80's weren't the sensory explosions they are today. Our local Safeway was clean, but boring. The chats broke up the monotony.
I didn't have my real first food shopping experience until much later. One summer home from college, my friend Alison decided to cook dinner for our little group of friends. She took me to Fresh Fields (now Whole Foods) with her to shop. I was amazed.
Totally out of my element, I followed her around, pushing the cart like an excited five-year-old, while she gave me a tour of the store. Taking in all the colors and interesting foods, I'm sure my mouth was hanging open.
Today, I can't get enough of the grocery store. Or, more accurately, grocery stores. While I rarely visit Whole Foods anymore (too expensive), I do go to Trader Joe's nearly every day (it's so cheap and so good!), and try to visit our local covered market and farmer's market as often as I can.
I also find myself seeking out markets when I travel. Something about the bustle of commerce and the cool, exotic look of foreign food makes me feel like I'm going native. (I took the picture at an open air market in the center of Stockholm in May 2001.)
Like most girls, I'm a sucker for a shoe store or something sparkly. But (lucky for my husband), I get nearly the same rush of excitement and pleasure when I see a basket of multicolored heirloom tomatoes, or some really beautiful tropical fruit. Markets are my Neiman's. (Well, no, that's not quite true. Neiman's is my Neiman's. But a great farmer's market is pretty close.)
Oh - and the Safeway I grew up with? It's gone totally Gucci. Sushi bar stocked by one of the best sushi places in Annapolis and everything.