I found almond biscotti. In Boston, this would have been un-noteworthy. Here, the good stuff, has been rare and expensive (Whole Foods always makes me feel like I've been soaked.) Today, easy, reasonable, excellent, accessible. We'd probably prefer to walk to the North End and get olives and cannoli as well, but this will satisfy. We will always walk to this one.
We went back, for a different store, next door, with the car, for a chair†. Could not park. The place is still rushed, full, as a kind of desperation takes over. It's not that it is so wonderful, although it's quite good, but that it fills a void. So many in this city visit TJ's in other states, just for this one thing, or that one item. I expect we are getting traffic from a hundred miles around, for Avocado's Number* guacamole, for chocolate cherries, something unique that is deeply missed, and not replaced from the Usual Big Stores.
Some of the folks at work who wonder at one simple grocery store's evoking such passion remain baffled. Took me
a while, after so many shoved us to shop there in Boston, to finally go. At first, I was not terribly impressed, although it was not the snooty, expensive, new-agey-health-foody place (i.e. Whole Foods) I'd expected. Once I learned what I liked there, nothing else quite filled that niche. They don't get it, and that's ok. More for the rest of us.
In Boston, we got used to the idea that one-stop-shopping was not on offer. We shopped every day, a bag or two - carried home - is quite enough. Different places had different items on offer, different strengths, different T routes. Browsing for food, or household goods was not a matter of going to one supermarket, but which grocery store, which Economy Hardware, how to get there, not have to carry too much back, or if we needed the shopping cart. The Brookline Shaw's for the cinnamon bread. The Fenway Star Market for produce, and Mexican imports. Pace's for meat, cheese, bread, olives, Italian desserts. Reusable bags were a necessity, not just the "green" option, but more reliable and comfortable. Which liquor store had which beer. Uptown Cafe for Chicken masala with ziti and meatball sandwiches - which I would pick up on Friday on the way home from work.
A lot of folks here would scoff. Why not just go to one place and get everything? Because a place that big will have everything, but no real variety. It will have the average, the popular, the good-enough-it'll-do.
People are shopping at Trader Joe's not just from this moderate sized city, either. But everyone in a 100 mile radius who's ever been to one elsewhere. They'll be down from Tremonton, up from Provo, over from Evanston and Tooele. In The City to shop, and stop at that place they have out in Las Vegas, or when they visited family in Portland or San Diego. Because the dominant church sends it's young all over, and some of them have converted to Joe-ism, and they know how to proselytize.
I'm just glad our lives are just a skosh easier. It's not a big change, really, but it's the little changes that really matter. A little chocolate, a wee biscotti.
It's a different world than it was ten years ago. Now, no one needs to live in an isolated, hick town. The world is our oyster cracker.
Oh, I got clam chowdah as well, but I forgot the Orster crackahs.
* A pun
I find irresistible.
†D's back is not happy, and a bad chair/desk configuration is a huge part of the problem.