I love food. There’s no other way to say it. I LOVE FOOD! I love almost everything about it, too. I love to watch it grow, I love to prepare it, I love to preserve it and I love to eat it. I love to try new foods. I love to learn about other culture’s food preferences. I love to shop for food. I don’t think I could ever turn my back on food by eating the same foods over and over. I want variety in my eating!
One of my favorite things to do is to shop for food. I am a total sucker for grocery stores, Farmer’s Markets, festivals, Amish stores, big box warehouse stores, little country stores, and specialty stores. When I go to one of those places, it’s like the possibilities are endless. I can make ANYTHING by just purchasing the right ingredients and finding the right recipe. When it comes to food, I can make anything happen with a little preparation. And when the anticipated dish turns out just right and people love it, I feel like nothing can stop me.
This love of food shopping started when I was a little kid. There was a little country grocery store called Wells’ Grocery at the end of our street. Back in those days, kids could be out by themselves and parents didn’t have to worry like they do today. Every week, when I got my allowance (I think it was $1 per week), I would walk down to Wells’ and see what I could get. This was the era when candy bars were 15 cents and bubble gum was 2 cents for a big piece. (I’m showing my age.) Anyway, I’d enter one of the store’s 2 doors and start my search. To the left was the bread and canned foods. The next aisle held snack foods and the candy, which was where I spent most of my time. The next aisle held cleaning supplies, and the deli was behind that. Horace was the butcher and he was (and still is) the most cheerful person you’ll ever meet.
The back of the store held the refrigerated section and the freezers. Circling around to the front again, I’d find the produce, school/office supplies and the small ice cream freezer, where I’d get to buy a toffee bar or an ice cream sandwich. The aging tiled floors were unlevel, and I had learned to anticipate the drop-off near the deli; otherwise, I’d stumble. At the register, they held the cigarettes and newspapers and The National Enquirer. I would get The National Enquirer regularly, along with my coke and peanuts and candy bar. Yes – back then my taste buds were highly developed.
I miss that old store and I wish that super chains like Wal Mart and Kroger hadn’t caused all of them to close. There’s just something about having a personal relationship with the people who run a business that’s missing in today’s society. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m willing to pay more for that relationship.
Now that I’m an adult, one of my favorite things to do while on vacation, is to go to the local grocery stores. I like to investigate the regional favorites. I generally come home with a trunk load of food and/or drinks that I can’t find anywhere around here. One time, I visited my friend in Iowa and found sparkling diet lemonade that we don’t have here. I came home with 18 cases. Another time, I was in Pennsylvania Amish country and found asparagus at some roadside stands. I bought a cooler specifically to bring home lots of the fresh asparagus. Just this past year I was in Florida and found a really great sharp cheddar cheese spread that I loved. I forgot to buy some before I left, and since then, I’ve been combing the stores here to find it. I finally called the company who makes it to see if I can order it. I can’t. I have to wait until it is introduced to our region.
Food brings too much pleasure for me to force myself into a self-imposed box that dictates what I can eat and what I can’t. Now that I’m trying so hard to make healthy decisions about what I put into and onto my body, I’ll admit that I’m a little obsessive, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I know it’s forcing me to look at new ways to prepare and enjoy so many of the delicious foods that are available to me.
Last night, for instance, I had the most incredible dessert that I think I’ve ever had. It was so simple to make and so richly satisfying that I almost cried with delight. It was grilled pineapple with a drizzle of local honey. Oh. My. Goodness! Mere words cannot do it justice. The natural sugar in the pineapple caramelizes, and the warmth just enhances the flavors. The drizzle of honey added a top note of tanginess that complimented it so well. It was light, low-calorie and healthy. And – it was the best thing I think I’ve ever eaten.