Friday, March 20, 2009
Whenever I start to complain about something, I have a certain friend who interrupts to say, "That would be perfect for your blog." That's what he says. What he's thinking is, "Aw, go bother someone else about it, you boring bitch."
So I will.
I plowed through my fridge, looking for something to eat, and the only offerings were pounds and pounds of frozen Trader Joe bags -- pierogies stuffed with squid lips, pizza with tofu-roni. For my international audience (that would be Julie), TJ's is a chain of highly successful grocery stores, owned by some mysterious German family; a family that keeps a VERY low Teutonic profile but employs some brilliant marketing strategies.
For no reason at all except their disingenuous newsletter and wood walls, TJ's has a reputation as a reasonably-priced gourmet outlet with strong organic-food tendencies. What's not to trust about this newsletter: I mean, it's written on recycled paper, sprinkled with childish illustrations, and chock full of corny text. "What Ho! Shrimp for $7 a pound? Avast me hardies. Dip your paddle to Trader Joes."
The thing is, TJ's is really a 99 cent store with better packaging, where managers wear Hawaiian shirts and bumpty-bump '60's tunes blare from the speakers.
"My boyfriends back and you're gonna be in traw-bull, heyla, heyla..."
Does anyone look at the snack ingredients? Do you really believe China practices sustainable fishing? Or Malaysia can teach us a thing or two about organic rice? Or flax seed can replace tortilla chips?
Still, you see all the San Marino matrons bagging their own groceries into their own canvas sacks, thinking they're taking one for the environmental team . But taking it tastefully. Truly, you can just see it on their satisfied faces as they pack up their own trail mix produced in India and coconut-battered shrimp from the Philippines. Good work, girls.
So why do I go? For the same reason as everyone else. It's dead cheap. And their Chilean wine becomes more and more drinkable the further down the bottle you go.
Then, getting back to my frozen supplies, why so much TJ? My problem is, I usually shop when I'm hungry. So, when I visit their sampling kiosk -- fried rice on a toothpick or a piece of turkey-wiener with Thai-lime and marshmallow curry sauce -- I'm starving, and anything tastes ok at that moment.
But not at any other moment. These delicacies are bound for a destiny of freezer-burn until I finally toss them away.
To make way for others.
But score one for my side. I make them pack my groceries. Double-bagged.