Without a doubt my morning is made a million time better when I think about the food I get to eat. I love food. I love to eat it, buy it, smell it, eat it some more…well, you get the idea. Food makes me happy. But, sadly I do not have a ‘green thumb’ for cooking. It is a skill that passed me by and it has not been such an easy skill to acquire since I made the move from Minneapolis to Brooklyn. In Brooklyn good grocery stores are hard to come by or worse yet, far enough away that I have to plan a week in advance to go to one. My grocery plight would be solved if I had the money to invest in a car, but that is not the case at the moment.
I moved to Brooklyn in the middle of January 5 years ago. I had no idea where anything was and I was a little worried that I was doomed to shop at the Bodega on my block for the rest of my life. During my first shopping experience in a Bodega I was surprised to find a plump, yet kindly looking cat sleeping on a bag of rice. I was a little grossed out to find dried up cat poo a couple of shelves down from where that cat was napping. Ugh. Let’s just say I visit the Bodega when I go through a spontaneous baking frenzy and I am out of things like milk or butter. I figure, cat poo has no business being in a refrigerator, right?
Shopping at the Bodega for food was not going to cut it. So, a few weeks after I moved in I set out to find a grocery store. Surely, there had to be a decent grocery store near by. Not quite sure which way to walk, I made my way to Fulton Street. I took a chance and made my way past Fulton Park (which is not really a park, but I will get to that later) and towards what looked like a small “shopping center”. When I say “shopping center” I want you to imagine three small shops connected to one another with bright neon signs brightly describing each. There it stood, between a fried chicken spot and a Chinese take-out– a grocery store. I walked in with a silly smile on my face. I was ready to shop!
I imagined it would be the same as a grocery store in Minneapolis. First you would walk through the produce aisle, mosey on down to the deli and then make your way through the frozen section. Of course, the experience would not be complete until I wandered each non-refrigerated aisle to load up on much needed goodies before heading to the check-out line. Boy, was I sadly mistaken. This little grocery store was just a larger version of a Bodega, with outlandish prices to match. I was disappointed to find a lousy pick of produce that definitely was not fresh and only three non-refrigerated aisles.
The bright side was that there was a deli, but the hairy man behind the counter with no hair-net made me wonder what type of surprise I would find in my sliced turkey. I walked the entire store in less than three minutes. I managed to purchase a box of Pecan Sandies, a tub of whip cream, a few bagels and a small container of cream cheese. $18 dollars later I realized I still had a food dilemma. Where is the REAL grocery store?
It wasn’t until two months later that a kind soul took me on a field trip to Fairway! I was in heaven…fresh produce, a deli man with a hairnet and aisle upon aisle of non-refrigerated food! I made that trip count and I savored every moment of it. I still remember being excited to find dillweed in the seasoning aisle. It was a great experience, but I have never made a second trip to Fairway. I would love to, but to get there would require at least one transfer on the subway and then an additional bus ride. It is just too far away.
Eventually, I discovered that only a mile away from my brownstone is a grocery store called Super FoodTown. It is not that ‘super’ in size, but it has what I need…and I have never seen a cat roaming its aisles or cat poo on the floor. In the past 5 years my hunting and gathering adventures have led me to explore why grocery stores are so hard to find in Brooklyn. As difficult as it has been to find a decent grocery store one thing remains the same- I love food. As a matter of fact, I am going to make lunch right now!