Thursday, September 28, 2006

Missing the Coop

Tonight I shlepped Natan with me to shop at Rami Levy. Rami Levy is the Pathmark of the area. Perhaps it's the Grand Union of the Grand Unions. Israeli groceries go by a series of stupid names all having to do with being the largest, the cheapest, the best selection - you get the picture. They have names like, Mister Zol/Zol means cheap, Super Deal, Super Sol Deal, Mega, Super Moshava. Then, there's the grand master of the deal, Rami Levy. In newspaper articles, Rami Levy always takes top marks in the "cheapest wagon in the country." I've been there a few times. It's vast, not perfectly organized and always filled with people. First, one has to decide which Rami Levy to go to. There are 3 in close proximity to each other and each one feels a bit like a 3rd world country. I go to the one that is the most western, shall we say. The parking lot is sort of "come as you are," in terms of finding parking and actually parking. Many of the places that people park don't really seem like appropriate spaces but that's part of the charm of the experience.

The produce is excellent. It may not be organic but it's a good selection and always fresh and prices really are quite good. They have a good cheese counter with a nice choice of hard cheeses and a encyclopedic selection of creamy, white, spreadable cheeses in all kinds of fat percentages and with various flavors, as well as many types of fetas and salty kinds of semisoft cheeses. There is a fresh fish guy and a butcher area - kosher meat as far as the eye can see. You can even buy all kinds of wine and hootch at the grocery here which is always amusing to us westerners used to a segregated liquor purchasing experience. No one even asks for something as amusing as proof when buying such things either.

Still, the shopping takes forever. It's all in hebrew, of course and deciphering labels and figuring out costs in quite exhausting. Natan and I had to fortify ourselves with bourekas on the way home - kashkeval and bulgarian cheese (quite good). Spent about 1000kNIS at the store. It was a big shop and I did get lots of extras but food ain't cheap here but we did stock up in a big way as it's just too exhausting to got there too often.

One amusing thing. Every time I go there, I spend alot and consequently, qualify for various store presents on the way out. Last time, 4 pkgs of Malawach, a yemenite bread that you fry in a pan and eat lustily with ground tomatoes and hope not to have too much digestion. 4pkgs - it's enough for a long time. This time? 3 yogurts and a container of window spray. Not too bad.

I do miss the coop. I miss the simplicity, the smallness, the more laid back nature of not shopping in a big grocery store. Israelis are too enamored with big box shopping and that's just not my cup of tea. I am finding orgnanic grains and things and this week found tempeh, how exciting but it's not easy to come by and it's not cheap. Stumbled on a nice health food grocery that even has produce but need to find their other location that's closer to my house. Not cooking that much yet anyway as just don't have the time and inclination and it all feels too strange still in the kitchen. I miss my stove as well as this stove is dinky and small and clearly my predecessor was not much of a cook - at least not with the same sense of largesse that I am.

Next week, maybe I'll get back to the shuk where the shopping is, too my mind, more pleasant, despite the shlepping factor.

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