Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Soul Food to Go (Manhattan Transfer)

When I was in Framingham, Massachusetts with my friend Stephen (before and after Falcon Ridge), we made a point to visit Trader Joe's, an unbelievably cool grocery store that I've fallen in love with, especially since the closest one to me is Atlanta - I spoke to one of their staff, and it seems they may be opening a store in Florida in two or three years. Can't happen soon enough, as far as I'm concerned - the selection is diverse, the marketing is clever and the prices are beyond reasonable!

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Trader Joe's is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, California. As of June 2007, Trader Joe's has a total of 280 stores.

Trader Joe's describes itself as "your unique grocery store". Products sold at "TJ's" include gourmet foods, organic foods, vegetarian food, unusual frozen foods, imported foods, domestic and imported wine, "alternative" food items, and basics like bread, cereal, eggs, and produce. Some non-food items, including personal hygiene products, household cleaners, vitamins, pet food, and plants and flowers, are also available. Many of the company's products are considered environmentally friendly.
Trader Joe's sells many items from any of several of its own private labels. Such labels are quirkily named by the ethnicity of the food in question, such as Trader Jose's (Mexican food), Trader Ming's (Chinese food), Baker Josef's (bagels), Trader Giotto's (Italian food), Trader Joe-San (Japanese food), Trader Johann's (lip balm), and Trader Darwin's (vitamins). Trader Joe's is also known as the exclusive retailer of Charles Shaw wine, popularly known as Two Buck Chuck because of its $1.99 a bottle price in California (although in some locales it sells for as much as $3.49 a bottle, due to varying state liquor taxes and transportation costs).

Every employee of the company is held to a certain set of values, which they base their decisions upon. Those values include the importance of integrity, the company’s emphasis on its unique products, and the need to create an experience for its customers that brings them back.

POEM: Blue Plate by Jesse Lee Kercheval

After the porno theater became a revival house,
the neighborhood began to change.
The Blue Plate, a designer diner, opened,
all aluminum and curves. Inside,
the menu featured revived comfort foods--
meat loaf, mashed potatoes, a glass case full of pies.
Young families moved in, the drawn shades
of the elderly replaced by window boxes
and Big Wheels in the yards. Another revival.
Then a Mexican restaurant opened--
though not one run by Mexicans.
A pizza place whose specialty is a pie
made with Greek, not Italian, cheese
called The Feta-licious.
But what is real? In time, everyone
came to depend upon the diner. Packed
for breakfast, lunch, pie, and coffee.
If you need a good plumber,
go to the Blue Plate and ask for Carl
who's there talking politics
with the other long-suffering followers of Trotsky.
If you want a sitter, ask the waitstaff,
Who has a younger sister?
If you're invited to a potluck, stop
and buy a whole pie.
In the town where I grew up,
there was a diner too, Bev's,
named after the cook and owner who,
my mother whispered the first time we went there,
was a Holocaust survivor.
When we went for breakfast or a hamburger,
Bev would wait on us, her tattoo shining
on her thick, damp wrist. She was not Jewish,
but Czech and Catholic. She kept an Infant of Prague
by the cash register and changed
his tiny satin outfits to match the seasons.
But she didn't make pie and her mashed potatoes
came from the same box as my mother's.
Bev's food wasn't good, only better than nothing.
Just like being a death camp survivor,
Bev told my mother, wasn't a good thing to be,
only better than not being.
My mother is dead now. Bev too.
My mother wasn't a good cook either, rarely made pies.
I can, but I like the ones at the Blue Plate
better. Dutch Apple, Three Berry, Lemon with Mile-
High Meringue. The trouble with meringue,
my mother said once, is that it weeps.
Amazing, I thought, sad pie.

QUOTE: "There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 comment:

  1. I've heard wonderful things about Trader Joe's, so glad to hear that we might have one in our own back yard!