CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon host Donna McElligott and I had a lot of fun reminiscing about Corner Grocers today. Catch the podcast and let me know if you have access to a great up and coming corner grocer or small general store in your area. I’d love to hear about it.
I’ve always felt I was born to GROCERY shop. It’s my favourite thing to do. I’m just a little picky about where I do it. That’s the key to making it fun. Check out my visit to three fun Corner Grocers and the recipes they inspired when you get the chance.
Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocer, announced this week that they will add 50 stores and spend $1.2 billion on expanding their network and distribution. Walmart echoed this push announcing $300 million in expansion. Big chains are getting bigger. That is not a story.
The stories in the grocery world right now, for me, are two trends I’ve been watching.
One is happening in a big way south of the border with Amazon dot com. They’ve been a distributor of all things since the 90s and 15,000 dry good groceries for a good part of that. Now, in their home base of Seattle and Los Angeles, if you join Amazon Fresh and pay a fee of about 200 dollars a year, you can order online from a wide variety of grocers and specialty stores for home delivery. As you long as you order by 11 p.m. – for most items – that which you desire will arrive on your doorstep by 6 a.m. the next morning. No wonder Loblaws are looking into e-commerce to broaden their distribution. They might be looking at some very empty big boxes of stores if this catches on in Canada. They’ll have to go some to catch Amazon who’ve been doing e-everything since the 90s and who just spent $750 million on their inventory robotics systems. Now that is a big story but it’s not the one I’m going to focus on.
The trend I’m going to focus on is the opposite of big. It’s small in every way. It’s the revival of the corner grocer.
Mahabalipuram lies about an hour south of Chennai in the state of Tamilnadu in South India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the sixth to eighth century temples carved in great detail from rock and sand. They’ve withstood time. They’ve withstood Tsunamis.
The beach here is long, curved and cascaded upon by never-ending wave chasing wave. They’ve arrived in this little crook in the Bay of Bengal in a chaotic but somehow predetermined rhythm. They seem to collapse exhausted on the shore after realizing the futility of racing each other across the breadth of the Indian Ocean. Plunging into them at dawn you feel the strength the moon lends them in tidal force. They want to pull you to the ocean’s depths with them but just in time a bigger stronger wiser wave floats you safely to shore.
Temples and beaches are impressive attractions but my reason for being in Tamilnadu was to see a dear friend and meet and cook with his family. Read on for a crispy Tamilnadu lamb fritter recipe and a few photos from my recent visit.
My friend Dee Hobsbawn-Smith, just sent me a note saying I might like this movie, Monsoon. I quickly looked up the date for Calgary and see that I missed it by a few days. Now, just like the film crew I’ll be chasing a monsoon.
I would have loved this film and I’ll hope to see it yet. It won the People’s Choice award and was in the Top Ten films at the Toronto International Film Festival.
I just experienced my first real monsoon season in India last November. India heightens our awareness of humanity’s oneness. Monsoons manage to magnify that effect. Read on for more about what my initiation into monsoon culture was like and to learn about a special project the director of Monsoon, Sturla Gunnarsson, has started.
My Coffee Conundrum
I love coffee but for sometime now I’ve felt incapable of making it – so that it’s worth drinking – at home. How, in the year 2015, can someone actually say that? This story has been brewing in my mind for some time.
It’s “true confessions of a coffee lover” meets coffee therapy with my friends Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb of Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters. It’s a cool thing to have expert friends to help you solve the puzzles of your life.