My stepdaughter has been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack obsessively over the last few weeks, in and of itself not so objectionable, but there’s a song tucked in there with an appallingly anachronistic, though seemingly obligatory, celebration of “The Greatest City in the World”! My first response was “…this is set in 1780 or so…why are they singing about (60x the size) London in this musical about the American Revolution set in New York?” Between that and the ridiculous claims about the pizza I’m fed up with NYC’s narcissism…but not so fed up that I won’t acknowledge the one area of culinary and cultural superiority New York has on New England: the bagel.
When we used to make weekly or bi-weekly trips into New York for LuLu to see her dad I would request a stop at a bagel place to get some real bagels. When LuLu’s dad moved here my wife started making her own bagels. At this very moment I am consuming a homemade sourdough bagel…grilled with butter and topped with cream cheese. Elizabeth hates the waste that most sourdough starters recipes entail and so she uses the theoretically discarded starter to make these:
I used to eat grocery store bagels; the onion ones are good for turkey sandwiches. There might even be some decent ones around here someplace, I’ve just never had one.
If we’re at someone’s house for brunch and they have typical bagged grocery store bagels I either slather them with cream cheese…and shut up, or I eat something else; I don’t share with them my agonizingly pretentious philosophy of the bagel; I save that for you, dear reader (No good deed goes unpunished).
Months ago I had taken these photos:
To respond to some articles I saw on CityLab complaining about “dollar stores”. I found the whole thing preposterous. It was the usual moaning and groaning about how the poor get stuck with shitty stuff while the rich get the nice stuff: Yeah, that’s what “rich” and “poor” mean, if you think about it. Unfortunately for my ego Strong Towns got to the subject before I did and Chuck said pretty much what I wanted to say: Dollar stores are a symptom, not the disease and people shop at them because they fill a need. Beyond that, the two closest dollar stores to my house A) don’t have on site parking and B)have repurposed existing buildings. I applaud them for both.
The end of the CityLab piece asked this vapid question:
I’ll answer it: Of course they don’t, and therefore it wouldn’t make any difference. Most of us don’t. Food science has spent billions engineering cheap foods that satisfy our cravings and AgriBiz marketing departments have spent billions in advertising to make us desire what they produce using the most subsidized crops.
I have the luxury of having a wife who is thoughtful about food, loves to cook, and works from home, and so she often arranges her day around cooking. Almost every evening includes a meal prepared from scratch. In the summer tomatoes from the garden are constantly being turned into homemade sauce, and hot peppers into salsa. In the fall grapes and peaches are turned into wine. In the wintertime we’ve paid for a CSA share of veggies.
We get the winter share from an organization here called “Gardening the Community”. My wife and I became acquainted with it years ago when we were shopping at a place, then called the reStore(great name), now called Eco Building Bargains (m’eh) where used and repurposed items are sold (At least one of my readers shops there, and I owe him a post about places to eat in Springfield, but I digress). The head of the organization was trying to transport a door for a shed in her Prius: We saw the problem and volunteered our Chevy S-10. When we dropped off the door we took a tour of the tiny community garden which has since become a large community garden, greenhouse, and neighborhood store.
I was at said store a few weeks ago picking up our “share” and commented on how wonderful the place was. I also mentioned the Domino’s Pizza which had just opened down the street. Leaving aside eating that pizza when there are some great local places nearby, we talked about the challenges which exist for people in this neighborhood regarding food choices. This great, inexpensive, community store is located at the heart of the neighborhood, but do people have time to cook, time to buy the food, kitchens in which to cook, utensils to cook with, the knowledge of how to prepare them, and the buffer in the budget to waste the money on food when the fresh stuff goes bad? This place has a kitchen and now offers lessons on how to cook; I’m sure they’d let people use their kitchen if they needed to. I can’t imagine a better or more thoughtful group of people doing what they are doing.
But most of the people in the neighborhood don’t take advantage of their services.
The bottom line is that they don’t see it as worth their time and effort.
On the other hand I was at a New Year’s Eve party in Springfield’s wealthiest suburb. I overheard people talking about “Hello, Fresh”, the make-it-yourself meal delivery service. The hostess of the party heard the conversation as well and commented to me, knowing of my wife’s Foody-ism, that we obviously didn’t need such a service. True. But these people, among the elite, at least geographically in our region, couldn’t be bothered to stop at a fresh food market, carefully select a suite of foods that could be combined for a meal, carry those foods home (probably in a huge SUV) and prepare them any more than the people in Six Corners.
That is what THEY were saying, in exactly those words, at this party.
How bizarre to expect that people who don’t have cars to haul the food, or enormous kitchens with wiz-bang gadgets to prepare the food, with schedules that don’t accommodate family meal times, and employment that not only leaves them with less money, but probably feeling less fulfilled at the end of the work day, WOULD be able to do so. Like it or not the dollar store, or Domino’s, gives them what they need.
I don’t eat better or healthier than anyone because I am a better person or because I have earned it. My life allows me the luxury to eat well, and I still sometimes go out of my way to eat crap. Yes, I’d like a little “Big Y” down the street, as I said a few weeks ago, and it annoys me that they don’t see the opportunity this area affords, but I don’t blame Dollar Tree or Family Dollar for opening up where Trader Joe’s and Big Y won’t.