Saturday, September 8, 2007

Is your market alive? Is your kitchen a temple...

A temple? An operating room? A laboratory? A factory? A work space? A play space? A party space? A cafe? A vestige? An ornament?

Does the restaurant restore you? The deli delight? The bakery raise your spirits?

Is your food store a market? A store? A bazaar? A gulag? Ever wandered the aisles in search of food, only to leave empty handed? Or perhaps you filled your basket as you usually do - but left empty hearted? Is the give and take there confined to the cash registers?

I try to find and frequent places where I can fill both my basket and my spirit. And this isn't just about the food. Great food is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to achieve that special energy - that feeling I so love. The really alive places are sometimes hard to find, but it's worth it.

A couple of favorites:
Arak's Market on Mount Auburn Street in Watertown, MA - a family run store offering produce, prepared Armenian specialties, olives, pickled vegetables, desserts, breads, cheese and grocery specialties of interest to the Armenian community, hookahs, and an inimitable atmosphere.
Wasik's Cheese Shop in Wellesley, MA - a family run store offering the best cheese in the best condition, with the best service, a warm and personal greeting and a smile.
One Stop International Market in Lowell, MA - a family run store offering freshly butchered Halal baby goat and lamb and some other groceries of interest to their local Muslim and North African customers.
Harkey's Wines in Millis, MA - a family run store offering a personally selected assortment of fine wines along with truly personal service and great advice.

Say, I'm noticing a pattern here - these are family run businesses. Is this essential to the experience? Have we found the 'je ne sais quois'? Can I cite a counter-example?


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