Friday, April 20th, 2007

It is both embarrassing and comforting to be able to tell you that the highlight of this day for me was being able to walk with Sammy “down the hill,” westward towards Monroe Drive, a Oaxacan market bag dangling from my wrist. We strolled to our brand-new-yes-finally-open Trader Joe’s, the intown one, the midtown one, the one we had been promised for more than a year.

It is, of course, a festival of upscale-y natural-y food and cheap wine that has figured out a way to get a Steve Jobs-ian Reality Distortion Field to extend across a modern american grocery store. It is, for reasons I’ve not sufficiently introspected upon, a fun place to buy comestibles that seem vaguely good for you…a place where the high-fructose corn syrup is consigned to the margins and the byproducts are mostly bygone.
It is in some ways the strange alter ego of Aldi, the bad-for-you-ingredients midwestern grocery store that older pinching pennies people prefer. Trader Joe’s is (according to this Business Week article a while back) owned by a trust created by the guy who cofounded Aldi. There’s a connection in a bunch of subtle ways—both places basically exclusively sell store brands, but we’re much happier that the one we live near—just over a mile from here sells foods that would not chase Michael Pollan away in abject terror. The nearest Aldi, on the other hand, is well outside the Perimeter. Phew.

But maybe I was wrong in that first paragraph…the highlight for me wasn’t just the nice jaunt out to shop, it was the lovely chicken and pasta meal whipped up by Ms. Sam from TJ ingredients (along with some fine fresh basil and pesto stick-blendered from that basil, brought back from the DeKalb Farmers Market.) It was warm, tasty, comforting, good for us. So, from the source of that food, let me shift the highlight back here where it belongs—to the experience of enjoying it with Sammy.

So, hey…we’ve got the DFM, we’ve got Whole Foods, we’ve got the best baguettes in town over at Alon’s, we’ve got Trader Joe’s. Let’s eat!