Sunday, March 7, 2004

TAGS food

Top-Shelf A&P

A new local grocery store celebrated its grand opening earlier this week.  Today was my turn for getting the food that will fuel our upcoming week, so after Ph.'s scrimmage (is there such a problem as basketball poison? My hoops toxicity level is at an all time high!), he and I popped in at the glitzy Price Chopper to see what all of the hooha was about.  It's Spring Break--what do I need more than beer and Ruffles? And beef jerky for snacks between high-carb meals?  I spend more money when I shop a store for the first time.  I went in today knowing that I would pick up a few extra things.  It comes down to new ways of seeing products, I think.  Or maybe it results from new products.  I'm a ritual grocery shopper. Aisle by tedious aisle, I usually stroll through Bressette's Sun Fresh every other Sunday picking out the bare essentials for meals.  But in a new store, like the one we shopped today, I discover unforeseeable combinations.  Like at the deli counter for example, I picked up a pound of chicken barbeque for sandwiches tonight, since the Sunday evening meal is the start of the new weekly cycle.  Barbeque, brussels sprouts and various pickled garnishes--cukes and beets.  Why not?

The store: like all new stores, it was a spectacle of consumptive splendor.  High shelves, bright lights, and none of the dusty, uncirculated products nobody ever buys--such as blue corn chips or ham and bean box meals.  Surprising sight:  two men wheeling laptop carts with corded scanner wands through the aisles--different aisles--to record the inventory and inform the backroom about barren shelves.  When I worked in a grocery, we actually pulled all of the back stock onto the floor during the night, force-shelved as much as would fit, then carted it all back.  Night after night.  That was twelve years ago.

When we approached the check-out, I saw three familiar students scanning groceries.  I chose lane nine where B., a student from Nairobi who I got to know last semester, was pushing clientele and their products through the line.  I met B. in a class called Reading and Culture for International Students.  And now, today, in our new local Price Chopper, I felt my teaching shrink momentarily.  Although it was bent on critical reading and cultural critique, something about the experience of reading American culture through the checkout line, through the products and purchasing habits of the upwardly affluent and economically safe (right, why was I shopping there?), well, it seemed unusually powerful, unusually telling. 

It's not a bad store, as stores go.  Unlike others places where I tried them once and never went back, the Price Chopper up the street has potential to attract my bi-weekly stroll-grab.  Heck, they even have Vernors (Michigan native ginger ale; I had it every time I was sick as a kid--every time). 

Bookmark and Share Posted by at March 7, 2004 9:17 PM to Gobstuff

I loved Vernor's ginger ale, though don't associate it with being sick. Of course, that was Cleveland--different culture from Michigan. : )

Posted by: John at March 8, 2004 5:11 PM

I probably should have noted that I drank it when I wasn't sick, too. Soda (as I've come to call it in Kansas City) was "pop" back home in Michigan, and Vernors was always a treat.  Funny, I just googled it and came up with this. It doesn't say when they moved away from making it with real ginger, which was the reason I was told we drank it to ward off ailments (sore throat, stomach ache, so on).  Of course, it tasted good and the nose-tickling effervescence made it seem both potent and homeopathic when compared to my second favorite pop, Faygo's Rock 'n Rye--a glorified red cream soda. 

Posted by: Derek at March 8, 2004 5:29 PM