Rachel, fellow Baltimore City resident and author of both Coconut & Lime (recent winner of The Food Blog Awards Best Food Blog - Original Recipes) and Food Maven has invited bloggers to participate in a blogging event called What's In Your Basket? where people describe what they bought on one trip to the store.
I have multiple places I shop for food, some of which I hit on a weekly (or even more frequent) basis, and some of which I go to only once a month or so. Most of the produce I buy comes from the farmer's market, although at this time of year very little of it is local. I buy meat and most supplementary produce from Whole Foods. Pasta, olive oil, canned tomatoes, and deli meat are bought at an Italian deli called Trinacria (although for some reason we've always called it Trinacria's) Most of the rest of my grocery shopping is done at Giant which is a Baltimore/DC area chain. There are two Giants that are within a couple of miles of my house, one which is old and small and somewhat rundown (at the Rotunda for any curious Baltimore readers) and one that is large and brand-new. I prefer the small, old Giant. Once a month I make a stop at the Super Fresh which is the only place nearby where I can find Milkbones in a 10-pound box and my brand of dog food in a big bag. Plus I make occasional trips to a Syrian grocery store and an Asian grocery store.
I had initially planned to write about Trinacria's which is my favorite among the stores where I shop. It's a small hole in the wall with a grimy and uninviting exterior but the interior is stuffed and stacked with Italian grocery items. There are enormous pyramids of canned tomatoes, bins of pasta, and shelves filled with things like lupini beans, Italian cookies, and Italian antacids. The deli meats are cheaper than anywhere else in town and include things like capicola and Calabrese ham. Trinacria's is also my source for imported Parmigiano-Reggiano and other cheeses.
I see the same people every time I shop there. There's young Vince who seems to manage the place, sweet and forgetful Uncle Vince who's the son of the original owner and has been working here ever since he came back from Europe at the end of WWII at age eighteen, and Mike who gives wine recommendations (red only, he doesn't drink white wine). The place has so much personality compared to everywhere else I shop other than the farmer's market that it was the obvious choice.
Except this past Sunday I went to Whole Foods and had two completely Baltimore moments which made me decide that I'd write about that shopping trip instead.
On Sunday morning I had to drive to New Jersey and on the way home as I drove back into Baltimore I was driving down Fleet Street on the east side of the city in an area that is far newer and glitzier than the area I live in on the west side, and because the afternoon was supposed to be snowy and I planned to make a pot roast, I stopped at the Whole Foods there. As I walked through the produce department I did a double take when I saw (attention Wire watchers!) Kima Greggs, or, more accurately, the actress who plays Kima Greggs.
Sure, sure, you probably run into celebrities all the time where you live but I live in Baltimore so this is a big deal for me. Plus, I'm a huge admirer of The Wire and Kima Greggs is one of my favorite characters. And besides, The Wire is such a Baltimore thing. No, I didn't say anything to her, it seemed like it would be intrusive. For the record she was in the produce department for quite a long while and seemed to have a cart full of leafy green vegetables. That was my Baltimore moment number one.
I bought my pot roast and potatoes plus a few other incidentals and headed for the registers. My checkout person was an African-American woman wearing a black hijab and a long-sleeved, ankle length black dress, and she was calling everyone hon -- "Did you find everything ok, hon?" "Paper or plastic, hon?" -- which delighted me to my core. That was Baltimore moment number two.
In certain Baltimore neighborhoods, everyone is called hon. It's more often used by woman then men, and woman who call everyone hon are called hons. They are typically big-haired white woman. Waitresses (the kind of waitresses who work in places where they wear cotton uniforms -- not the kind of waitresses who work in places where they have "waitstaff") are often hons, but hons show up all sorts of places. The cashiers at my dealership's service department are hons, and I've been waited on by hons in the checkout line at the Home Depot beyond Greektown. Mike tells me there are hons who work at the courthouse where he works.
But the woman at Whole Foods was sort of a fusion hon, a hon playing against type. She had the hon lingo down, but in appearance was the polar opposite of a hon. I can't truly explain why but II love that sort of stuff!
I headed home with my groceries. The sky was low and grey and the air was heavy and cold the way it is when you know it's going to snow. At home Mike had a fire going in the woodstove and the kitchen was warm and bright and smelled of wood smoke. I got my pot roast into the oven and spent a pleasant afternoon hanging out and watching football with Mike (and by watching football I mean reading cookbooks while Mike watched the game) while the first snow of the winter fell outside.
Oh, wait, this was supposed to be about what was in my marketbasket, wasn't it? I'd like to be more precise about what I bought but I seem to have thrown out the receipt. But from memory:
Chuck roast $10.21
Potatoes $1.49 a pound (I bought two or three pounds)
Organic Water Crackers with Sesame Seeds $3.19
2 bottles of Odwalla Super Protein on sale for $4.00 (these seem unappetizing to me but my son loves them)