No, I don't miss hauling groceries up three flights of stairs, or trekking ten blocks with two cloth bags that were bursting with produce around my shoulders, or plopping my Trader Joe's bags between my feet to steady them on the subway home.
What I miss is the variety of fresh and interesting options, the range of ethnic foods, the little specialty shops where I'd go to get just one or two things.
Italian market in my neighborhood to get big chunks of parmesan cheese that I would grate over just about anything, it was so divine. Then I'd throw the rind into a pot of stew and walk back to Milano's for another chunk, and sometimes I'd treat myself to a batch of freshly-made pasta too.
I used to buy curry at Kalustyan's on Lexington and 28th. I absolutely love curry and theirs was just the best. One time, for a special lamb dish I was making, I also bought the most fragrant cinnamon sticks and some bright green cardamom pods.
I was always trying out new bakeries for bread and bagels. There are too many good ones to be loyal to only one.
Instead of ordering loose tea online like I do now, I took the subway down to Broome Street to replenish my tins. It was fun to sample new varieties, but I always loved going back to my old favorites.
I cheated with olive oil. My parents were about a 4-hour bus ride away and they had a great source for Greek olive oil, so I would bring up my bottle to refill whenever I visited them in Upstate New York.
And I could go on and on. For me, shopping for great food was one of the highlights of living in New York. I didn't even mention the beautiful things I always found at the farmer's markets. Or the Turkish bodega right next to my building where I bought most of my produce and nuts and grains and dried fruit.
My mom is the one who taught me that this is the best way to shop. Growing up, we had a favorite bakery, a Greek imports store where we got the most delicious olives and feta cheese, an amazing German butcher shop. I think there's value in this kind of shopping, which is reminiscent of the way it used to be before supermarkets came into the picture. Getting your bread from the baker and your meat from the butcher.
I love it because food is important to me and so I try to seek out what is the most fresh and flavorful. I also much prefer popping into several small shops to spending 45 minutes getting everything I need at a massive grocery store. It's also nice to support local businesses and believe it or not--I think this approach may have saved me some money (traditional NYC grocery stores are enormously overpriced).
I'm dreaming of the day when I can shop this way again. In the meantime, think I can convince my little brother to ship me some NYC bagels?