My very first post in my new blog is about food a little bit, but mainly about grocery stores. I'm probably just one of many who loves to go grocery shopping. There's something about deciding what to make for the week, writing a list, and then selecting and purchasing those items that satisfies me on a very deep level. I also just love looking at all of the different types of food. I have two favorite aisles - sometimes I think they're combined in one aisle, which makes it even better. The aisle with jams/jellies/honey is so beautiful - I enjoy admiring the colors of the different flavors and the shapes of the jars. My other favorite aisle is the coffee/tea aisle. If you know me, you know I love coffee but can't drink it any more. I still love smelling the coffees and looking at the beans in the bulk bins. After doing that, I enjoy browsing the tea selection to find something I haven't tried before. Anyway, on to my post.
Tonight, I made a super-delicious salad composed of the following ingredients: baby greens, red bell peppers, mandarin oranges, edamame, and grilled chicken, topped with Newman's Own sesame and ginger salad dressing (which is super-delicious). This salad would be equally delicious with tofu, especially a marinated and baked tofu. Toasted almonds would also add to the tastiness, but I forgot them. I am embarrassed to state the inspiration for this salad, but if asked, I might tell you in privacy. This salad should have been really quick to make, but I took me 2 days to find frozen edamame.
Porkchop and I live in the so-called "ethnically diverse" part of St. Louis. As such, one would think you could find frozen edamame in any grocery store in the area. Plus, edamame is no longer really considered "exotic." Come on, it's soybeans for crying out loud. Anyway, I've learned that it's not such an easy task.
Here is my edamame story:
Yesterday, I went to a local Schnuck's - not the sketchy one down the road, but a classier one - thinking they would carry edamame. Wrong! They don't have edamame....in fact, they hardly have anything that would be classified as "natural" foods. Sorely disappointed, I came home without my required ingredient.
Today, I tried the new Shop and Save that isn't too far from our apartment. No edamame. Also, the "Asian" section of the frozen food aisle was nothing but Asian Sensations frozen eggrolls and such. I enjoy an Asian Sensation eggroll every once in a while, but I don't think the brand rightfully represents "Asian."
After Shop and Save, I decided to go to Jay International Foods, which is super-close to us. I know, I know....I should have gone there in the first place, but for some reason I thought the store might be closed on a Sunday evening. Fortunately, yay!, it was open. And they had edamame! And red bean ice cream!
After browsing through Jay International Foods, I can think of no reason to ever go back to stupid Schnuck's or Shop and Save. If there are frozen red bean buns to be had, I will go. If there are 15 different types of naan to choose from, I will be there. And if I can buy headless fish candy in bulk, I will.
The only downer was that I couldn't find the oatmeal cakes that I've been looking for ever since returning from Europe in 1998.
My edamame anecdote might be amusing (or boring, perhaps), but I think it really shows the problems of urban grocery stores. We live in the City of St. Louis, not a frou-frou suburb, and I'm learning about city food shopping. One of the Shop and Save stores has a little "international" aisle, primarily composed of Bosnian foodstuffs (St. Louis has the largest Bosnian population in the U.S.), but the other nearby Shop and Save doesn't. The closest Schnuck's is, as I said, sketchy. The nicer one is much further away, and it still doesn't have edamame or other "ethnic" foods. Besides Jay International Foods (which, for all its glory, doesn't have what some might consider basics), the only options for fancy "ethnic" foods are Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Unfortunately, these stores are 15 minutes away via an interstate. Forget about bussing it out there - that would take up most of one's day.
I enjoy going to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but why aren't they bringing the food to the people?? Must the City dwellers be deprived of organic goodies and Trader Joe's good deals?
The best grocery store I've ever been to is Woodman's on Madison's west side. They had EVERYTHING. Seriously. And, the prices were super-reasonable...I have never seen organic and natural food for so cheap. And it was conveniently located on multiple bus lines. The only drawback was the produce section, but if you didn't wait until Sunday afternoon to do your shopping, you were fine. Not only did Woodman's have insane inventory of hard-to-find things, going there was such an experience. So many people running with carts - woe to the indecisive shopper blocking an aisle.
The grocery store situation here in St. Louis is, fortunately, a bit better than that in North Liberty. North Liberty had one sad Fareway, so we usually went to the Hy-Vee in Coralville. I hated Hy-Vee and their expensive soy milk. The only good thing about Hy-Vee was their chinese food, which was super-yum for some reason.
We occasionally ventured to the New Pioneer Co-op, which sounds wonderful but was actually a letdown. The prices were super-high even for a co-op, and the selection was meager. The only good thing going for it was its deli, which had good food and a Blue Sky soda fountain. Awesome!
For my next post, I shall outline the restaurants that I've been to so far in St. Louis and then write about the ones I want to try next. Also, not to ignore the other purpose of this blog, I'll post a picture of my new scarf-in-progress.