Wednesday, January 16, 2008
For all of the "foodie" portion of my adult life, which would include the last 25 years at least, I have lived in large urban areas; SFO Bay area, Austin, New Orleans. One of the constants of those 3 areas is access to amazing food and, maybe even more fabulous for me.. grocery stores!! The food snobs in California certainly enlightened me, and their grocery stores, primarily Cosentino's, stoked my gradually increasing interest in recipe creativity. New Orleans boasts a year round open market in the French Quarter where abundant fresh produce is always available and even the most humble mega grocery, i.e., Schwegman's sells freshly caught seafood of every variety and the absolute most sublime French bread to be found outside Paris. Austin is the HOME of Whole Foods and Central Market (the most incredible grocery story I ever shopped in).. nuff said.
Anyhoo, for various reasons,(health, financial, family) 3 years ago, I moved myself to Opelousas, Louisiana. There are many positives. I bought a comfortable home and live near 2 children and 3 grandchildren. The one big negative, the one I've whined about to whoever might listen is the lack of any grocery more sophisticated than Wal-Mart. That includes the nearest largish city to me, Lafayette which is about a 15-20 mile trek south, depending on which grocery story I'm headed to. Oh, I've been able to find individual items here.. and there.. but nothing consistent. Nothing like the food emporiums I had come to depend on. Until..
Last Sunday, I invited my daughter and her family over for a last, gut-busting, calorie laden meal (Baked Ziti). At some point, I launched into one of my familar laments about the lack of arugula, yada yada.. when said daughter casually mentioned, over her iced tea.. "You know, Mom, there's a Fresh Market in Lafayette now."
I gasped. I gaped. I questioned her mental stability. She assured me. It's twue..it's twue!!
Monday, I turned in to a parking lot bordered by freshly landscaped flower beds and a "NOW OPEN" banner, fluttering in the sunshine. I floated through the door of a sandy colored stucco'd building with dilated eyes and nostrils. I nearly swooned. I immediately dialed up my California daughter. "Guess where I am?" Every employee who greeted me (I'd forgotten how they all sound like they trained at Disneyland) soon regretted it. "I'm so happy! I can't believe this is here! I feel like I've died and gone to heaven." I tried to contain myself once I noticed their eyes glazing over. One guy actually started glancing around as though he were assuring himself that rescue was near in case I suddenly went postal.
I drove home with a gargantuan bunch of arugula, Fage yogurt, hummus, pillowy rounds of freshly baked pita, a few Medjool dates (shhh), spices, sauces, and ...gaahhh.
It means so much to me, that it's almost embarrassing now actually writing this down. I am literally over the moon. Opelousas finally feels like home.