After the past two summers in New York City, living for periods of time in some of the Boroughs, my son has decided that he far prefers the available grocery and restaurant meals in Vancouver.
After our last few grocery shopping expeditions there I am inclined to agree that groceries are a lot more fun there than they are out here on the prairies. While they tend to be expensive, the choice is so fantastic compared to the average prairie town.
I remember living in Moose Jaw where all the lettuce was brown from the time it arrived at the stores....brown in the bag, brown in the restaurant salads, brown brown brown. Here our salvation from wilted grocery store veggies, at least in the summer and fall, is the delicious produce from the local Hutterite colonies. In winter we are left to fend for ourselves, fighting for the few heads of unwilted lettuce and occasional bag of non-pithy carrots.
One thing though that really made me chuckle was the pre-cooked BBQ chicken my husband brought back to the hotel one day. He purchased it at the same grocery store chain that we have here in our wee town...not that we buy them very often because they taste like they have been injected with several vials of salt, but on this Holiday for the Sickie it was one thing he wouldn't have to buy fresh and cook.
Haha...the word "cute" was invented for this chicken. I have decided after seeing it that in Vancouver meat is perhaps more of a condiment on a dinner plate than a main course. The chicken came from the same chain, had the same packaging and cost two dollars more than the chickens I would buy here. However, this chicken was SO tiny I have seen more meat on a Cornish game hen. haha By the time I peeled the meat from its weeny legs and skinny little breast I barely had enough for two sandwiches.
I started thinking about the old Mr. Bean sketch where Mr. Bean ends up wearing the Christmas turkey over his head and wondering if this little chicken would even be large enough to fit over his big toe!!
The chicken was the only blip on the grocery horizon. The grocery shopping in Vancouver is so wonderful for the most part. Reasonably priced ethnic and organic foods grace nearly every downtown market. The outlying residential neighbourhoods often feature seemingly giant retail "groceterias" compared to anything we have locally. Walking through the doors into the stores I am hit with a visual feast that is nearly overwhelming. It takes me hours to shop, to study, to choose, to guess what would be the tastiest or the best deal or the most interesting to eat.
Although I was too ill to shop this time, my husband made great choices to prepare in our hotel kitchenette. My son showed up with steaks one night, so thick and juicy that I forgave the chicken for being such a teeny birdie as I delighted in the marinated fresh beef. (My son worked in a Greek restaurant for a couple of years and has not forgotten what he learned there about cooking meat! YUM!)
I know I sound as old as the hills, or holiday handicapped or slightly demented to be concerned about grocery shopping on a vacation, but my husband and I are foodies and going to a large port city to eat fresh, truly fresh, food is a sensual experience for us.
We love you Vancouver....well, except for the pre-cooked chicken condiment. haha