Good Stuff: Yet another reason to love the other coast.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Yes, grocery shopping is a necessary part of life.

Grocery stores are heaven- not only do they provide urban dwellers and suburbanites alike with fresh and processed sustenance, as well as human interaction, but if done right they also nourish the soul of the common man.

I love the West Coast. California’s great to visit with its endless sun, but it can be a little much for an East Coast mouse with a penchant for places with four seasons (and the Four Seasons). Oregon’s natural beauty, granola lifestyle and arty mein is a lovely change from the hustle and Type-A bustle of the East. And the great state of Washington’s rain is intimidating but the beautiful green is a wonderful pay off. But what truly makes the West Coast god’s country, at least in my opinion, is this: grocery stores.

QFC, PCC and Metropolitan Market are heaven. They are where food that has been very, very good or possibly just very, very organic, goes to be sold.

The first time I visited a Northwest grocery store I remember being greatly amused by the produce section. I remember we were visiting my sister at Evergreen State and stopped in at a local store. “Check this out!” she kept telling us. “It’s SO funny!” We stood in the produce section unsure of what to think or do, when all of a sudden, the lights above us flashed and storm noises came from the PA system. Then a fine spray of water began misting the vegetable as “Singing In The Rain” played softly. It was… bizarre. At our grocery at home they just hose everything down, as far as I can tell.

QFC, with its rather utilitarian website, is like our Giant on steroids and with less 70’s faux wood panelling. The place required a roadmap. I ran in to return something and wandered… and wandered… and wandered, my mouth agape, at the variety and breadth of selection.

The branch of Metropolitan Market I visited in Admiral, West Seattle, reminded me of a little farmer’s market except all under one roof. The produce section included tubs of fresh cut veggies that could be bought in bulk for particular recipes. Here was a stir fry mix with bok choy and water chestnuts, here was a fajita mix with peppers and onions, here was an instant salad mix- just add lettuce. Wow. And they sell cheesemaking kits, of all things. Tom Douglas, the patron chef of Washington, had spoken there recently but unfortunately I missed it. However, I later stumbled upon Dahlia Bakery in Seattle and enjoyed some of his cookies. Yum.

PCC was by far my favorite. The Puget Consumers Co-op opened in 1953 with the goals of being environmentally friendly and supporting local, sustainable agriculture, says the website. All I know is, they have active yeast, red pepper feta scones, local microbrews and a bulk food section that’s to die for. And very nice people who were willing to try and explain how to cook with yeast and then listen to my recounting of how it went (it didn’t, but that’s another post).

When I told a nice checker at Metropolitan Market (who told me that more picture taking would get me in trouble) that I had thought of moving to the Northeast just for the grocery stores, she smiled. “You’re not the first person to say that.”

Let the exodus begin.

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