Our summer farmer’s market opened yesterday for the season, and I’m shouting out a big ‘hallelujah’ – my place of worship is back. That first whiff of the season’s fresh basil just sends me into a spin. The setting in the park is lovely, and we have a great selection of vendors, even if it’s not the biggest farmer’s market. Have to have the fresh goat cheese, bread, flowers, fabulous vegetables and always – bags of mushrooms from the mushroom guy. Love those maitakes. Mmm mmm mmm. We grill them, put them in omelettes, or make a little pizza with them. So, you must have a cute market tote or two ready to go at all times. At the shops, we’re pretty much sold out at the moment, but have a lot more on order, so check back (and I’ll try to post some pictures when they come in). I’m really trying to retrain myself to remember to have them available for regular grocery shopping, too, to try and cut down on the excess paper/plastic situation. By the way, on the front page of yesterday’s “Bulletin” (6/7/07) was the most adorable picture of a little girl shopping at the farmer’s market. I bet her mom is ordering copies by the dozens… I don’t know how to link to it; maybe you can figure it out. Bend Farmer’s Market: Wednesdays from 3-7pm (and again on Fridays at St. Charles). Try www.bendliving.com/DAYS/Seasonal_Favorites/
The excavators have made lots of progress on the new Trader Joe’s location north of town. The day the headlines announced that we were finally, officially getting our TJ’s, you could almost hear the collective “yay” from all of us transplants who missed having them around. It doesn’t mean I won’t still be in Newport Market just about every day, or shopping at Ray’s (I like them, too), or Wild Oats, when I’m on that side of town. Sidebar: unless under duress, won’t step foot into any of the other chain stores, partly because I detest those customer ‘appreciation’ discount cards, which irritate me no end, and also because they’re so impersonal and massive and uninteresting. Another sidebar: the liquor store inside Ray’s is very nice, and clean, and well-lighted and carries some different, interesting products. In some of the other liquor stores you almost feel like a criminal skulking around in there – just a little weird facet of Oregon and our state-controlled liquor stores.
Anyway, Trader Joe’s has a lot of fans, moi included. I feel at home in them, and know that whichever one you’re in, there will be consistency in the quality of food offerings, and always a friendly, knowledgeable, efficient staff that can bag your purchases faster and better than anywhere else. I don’t know how they keep the staff morale at such a high level (or maybe they’re all experts in masking their true feelings!). I’ve never worked at a grocery store, but I imagine it’s not easy. Nevermind the physically challenging stuff: I’m talking about hungry, hurried, harried shoppers who snap and grump at the staff, or get frustrated in line and give them the stink eye, or let their kid stand in the cart and drop a carton of yogurt on the floor. No doubt all those experiences could fill a book or three.
I know there are plenty of anti-shoppers – hard to understand for the likes of a shopping monkey. Personally, I quite enjoy grocery shopping and often end up at the store after our own shops are closed. When I was little, my dad and I would do a lot of the food shopping together, and talk about the possibilities of what we could invent with what was fresh and available. Very Italian, he was. I loved it. I think the key word here is possibility. It’s the promise of something new and exciting and delicious. And that’s what winds me up about shopping in general: whether a visual feast or a virtual one, it’s all about change and possibility and having all the senses firing at once.