Regardless of your gourmet clout–whether you’re Thomas Kellar or Suzy Homemaker–we all go to the market. Some of us go to farmer’s markets while others (the majority) frequent corporate groceries. There are organic markets (Whole Foods) ethnic markets (Chinese, Indian, and Jewish groceries) and designer markets (Dean & Deluca). Me? I shop at Best Buy and Borders.
No, Best Buy doesn’t sell food. Neither does Borders. I go to Best Buy for CDs and DVDs and Borders for books. Occassionally I’ll go to used book stores too. What’s my point here?
Today I took three gigantic cups of change that I’d been collecting these past few months and cashed them in at a CoinStar machine yielding $108 of “unearned” income. I promptly jumped in my car and sped off to Best Buy where I purchased $108 of CDs and one DVD. This is my version of retail therapy.
The point of this post is that very few of us function equally well in all market situations. Take a stoner to a hemp shop and he’ll choose you the phattest bong; drop him in a Sports Authority and he’ll come out doubly dazed and confused. It’s the same thing with food shopping. Most corporate groceries put the focus on value and many of us are taught to comparison shop to save money and, if we’re good at that, we consider ourselves “good shoppers.”
Food culture, however, is not a culture of economics. It’s a culture of freshness, of ripeness, of sniffing and squezing, of digging and licking. Oh wait, maybe that’s porn culture?
When I go grocery shopping I am SO not in my element. I’m a terrible grocery shopper. One day I would love to follow a chef through the market, to watch him or her study a squash or pinch a peach. These are the skills that separate the men from the boys, the eggs from the yolks, the Dion from the Belmonts.
Instead, I’m a wonderful shopper of CDs, DVDs, and books. My knowledge is expansive: I know exactly which CD, DVD or book purchase will round out my library, will provide perfect background music for a fondue party or provide visual stimualation for a deranged serial killer should one come over to watch a movie. Book-wise, my collection is exquisite. My bookshelf is arranged obsessively, much like John Cusack in “High Fidelity” which, I have yet to purchase in book or DVD form, despite the fact that I own the CD. My reasons are complex and incredibly rational.
Incidentally, my CD purhcaes today include:
Liz Phair’s “Whip-Smart” (because I love “Whitechocolatespacegg” and “Exile in Guyville”)
PJ Harvey’s “Uh Huh Her” (because sometimes you just want to hear someone scream like a banshee)
Ryan Adams “Rock N Roll” (I love Ryan Adams now. Everyone thinks I mean Bryan Adams, but no. Ryan Adams is awesome)
The White STripes “Whie Blood Cells”
Lyle Lovett “MY Baby Don’t Tolerate”
Paul Westerberg’s “Stereo.”
Now don’t laugh. I bought a DVD of David Copperfield’s greatest tricks. It was on sale. It features Claudia Schiffer.
Silly mortal. I’m telling you, I’m an exquisite shopper and your incredulousness says more about you than it does about me. Me? I can see the Statue of Liberty disappear any time I want to. If only I could pick a perfect plum.