Bite and Sip

Reflections on grocery shopping and hold the bacon please

2014-02-20T10:00:00Z Reflections on grocery shopping and hold the bacon pleaseBy Pat Colander nwitimes.com
February 20, 2014 10:00 am  • 

A Few More Words About Food: The food-and-drink-loaded March-April issue of Shore is out there now complete with pointed remarks citing---but not indulging---examples of over-the-top food dramatics mostly of the televised variety. But I have a cojuple of additional thoughts since then. First about bacon. I have enjoyed bacon as much as anybody. In tomato season, my family eats BLTs three times a week. But I avoid it in most other contexts now. Bacon was a wonderful indulgence that turned into an occasional surprise and now an eternal nightmare. I like chocolate without bacon. I don’t think people or the meals they eat should smell like cooked bacon. You can never be completely sure that there isn’t any bacon lurking around these days, but I’m hoping there isn’t much of it in the Shore guide to great eating and drinking.

And Special Praise for Grocery Stores: It took a trip to NYC to open my eyes to what is going on with grocery stores. My grocery shopping experience has changed---everyone’s grocery store experience has changed. I probably visit stores more frequently and buy less per trip. I buy fresh sushi at Strack’s at least once a week now. I frequent the raw bar at Whole Foods when I’m in Chicago. I don’t eat at restaurants as much as I pick up carry-outs at the grocery store. And that can mean anything smoothies, salad and/or olive bars, freshly ground peanut butter and crackers. The choices just expand. In Manhattan, at the Time Warner CNN building, which is also the location of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon and Per Se restaurants, the lower level is a deluxe Whole Foods, pretty much an extravagant semi-circle of food stations with very few traditional “groceries.” Hot food, cold food, everything you can imagine. Families by individual meals and take them home, working people buy food and take it back to their desks and plenty of people just grab something and take a chair in one of the sitting areas and social network on their phone while they eat.

For the food experience thing the same people every once and a while may make a reservation at one of the restaurants five levels up for some very different food served flawlessly. This is how we live now and without being too self-conscious, for lots of people it’s an efficient system. Going to the NYC Whole Foods where there is zero family shopping going on was a super reality check. The grocery stores I frequent---including one of the Whole Foods stores in Chicago---are way more fun, the aisles are bigger and there are lots of families and little people and an occasional wine bar and even open seating scattered around the building. I’m sure there will be more and better ergonomically friendly touches in all the stores in the future.

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