I have never been to Bi-Rite Market, but now that I have this book in my possession, I do not know why it hasn’t been top of my list when in the Bay Area. If that sounds at all silly to you, understand that while on vacation, I visit independently owned grocery stores the way other people explore national parks.
When in Portland, I stop in to New Seasons, Pastaworks, Food Front and People’s. Last weekend while in Western Massachusetts, I dashed in to the River Valley Market and the Berkshire Co-op Market. I’ve been to the Brattleboro Food Co-op in Vermont, New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City and Wheatsfield Grocery in Ames, Iowa.
It’s a funny little habit, but I’m fascinated with how different regions of the country do their grocery shop, particularly when freed from the homogenous grocery store chains that dominate so much of our food buying.
What’s all that have to do with this new, lovely book? Well, other than planting a seed that I must visit Bi-Rite someday, flipping through this volume has reminded me why I like these small markets so much and why I’ve chosen to do the bulk of my shopping the way I do (from farmers’ markets and small produce stores and through CSA shares and buying clubs). I’ve always been a believer in the necessity and importance of community, and there’s no better way to nurture that human connection than over food. Bi-Rite owner Sam Mogannam and his staff get that in a deep and true way.
Here in Philly, there’s an urban farm in the Kensington neighborhood called Greensgrow (I taught a canning class in their community kitchen last weekend and have another one coming up in November). Their slogan is “Growers of food, flowers and neighborhoods.” It’s just different verses of the same song.
Still, you might wonder why I think you should carve out some space on your shelf for Eat Good Food. In addition to the fact that it sent me running to the kitchen within the first few days of ownership, consider it a working manual for your grocery store. The sections are divided by grocery aisle, so that you can easily find resources by genre. In the chapter devoted to the produce section, it’s further divided by season, making it easy to browse for inspiration depending on what time of year it is.
What’s more, you won’t just find recipes and essays from farmers and chefs. You’ll also find information on how to buy, store and use foods. Helpful, particularly for those of you who recently got your first head of escarole or frisee in your CSA box and don’t know how to approach it.
As I get to the bottom of this post, I’m a little bit concerned that I’ve made Eat Good Food sound highfalutin or elitist. Truly, it’s anything but. Yes, the book features essays about farmers and sometimes waxes poetic about the perfection of seasonal fruit. But essentially, it’s a user’s guide to food shopping, with beautiful pictures and approachable, delicious-sound recipes. How could you not want that kind of book within easy reach?
Woo Hoo for New Pioneer! That’s where I shop. 🙂 When I am on vacation I love to visit Asain and other ethnic grocery stores. Glad to know someone else who checks out grocery type stores for fun! 🙂
I really need to get this- and I’m going to bay area next month so will have to check it out. And, I’m tickled you’ve been to my ol’ stomping grounds at New Pioneer in Iowa City. I love IC! =)
Beautiful book! Thanks for expanding my wish list. (Bi-Rite’s in my neck of the woods, but I’d want this book in any case.)
Thanks for the tip on such an intriguing book. I’ll have to order one.
Funny, I’ve never thought to visit grocery store while traveling. I do, however, visit farmers’ markets where ever I go.
I LOVE visiting grocery stores in other countries, but it never occurred to me to seek out the independent groceries when I’m traveling more locally. Great idea! I live in the Bay Area and shop at a different small indie. I was in a big chain store the other day and was totally overwhelmed. I vastly prefer my slightly more expensive, carefully curated, walkable-from-home shop!
My family thinks I’m weird because one of my favorite things to do when I’m visiting another city or country is to go to the grocery store. I’m so tickled to see that I’m not alone in this! My husband and I even visited a grocery museum in the Netherlands.
We too, my hubby and I, whenever we travel, we often go the local grocery for a meal or two. We save money over eating at a restaurant and have the comfyness of eating in our room and many have frigs for any leftovers or foods to tide us over. Thanks for sharing this, we have not traveled for a bit and we might do so again in a few years. Best wishes for all your travels.
I’m so happy to see the shoutout to New Pioneer in Iowa City. I loved shopping there when I live in IC, and I miss it everyday since I’ve moved. However, Des Moines now brags a new grocery, focusing on local and organic products, called Tallgrass Grocery. You’ll have to check it when next time you get to town.
If you do go visit…be sure to also walk across the street a few doors down and visit the Bi-Rite Creamery…O-M-G!!! My favorite is “Sam’s Sundae” (with sea salt and olive oil…yup sounds odd maybe but DELICIOUS) I get it with the salted caramel ice cream instead of the default (which I think is chocolate). YUM!!!!
I also love wandering around locally owned grocery stores. My brother works at Bi-Rite- it really is a lovely place with an incredibly knowledgable and passionate staff. I tried the delicata squash pomegranate salad from “Eat Good Food”- amazing!