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  1. Tess

    Steven Shaw

    This is terribly sad. Best thoughts to his family.
  2. This suggests to me that you walk in anticipating problems. You may be ascribing these anticipated problems to your youth or clothes. Certainly, biases in that direction exist. But also, people in the service industry have a pretty good sense of who is coming in expecting their own negative biases to be confirmed. Some respond by trying to confound your expectations; others will be only too happy to fulfill them. I would suggest that if you really take yourself seriously as a journalist, you check this baggage at the door and try to have an experience that's not tainted by your own attitude. As a bonus, you'll have a better time when you dine out.
  3. I love adding it to tomato or vegetable soup. You just put it in the bowl, add a little soup to temper it and stir, then add the rest of the soup. I also top it with a little bit of caponata or other vegetable confit like the types you get in jars from eastern European and middle eastern markets.
  4. Some sample people are judged by sale figures. They get bonuses, or their hours are determined by how much they sell. I know that's true at Costco; those sample ladies are not paid by the store but by the vendors, through the demo company. That doesn't mean I'm about to buy stuff I don't want, but I would think twice about wasting a sample person's time letting them chat me up when I know I'm not going to buy anything from them. I have bought a lot of things because of samples. It's how I discovered the insanely delicious vegetable-flavored tofu at Super H Mart. My favorite sample experience was at Foodstuffs, a suburban Chicago chain. I asked what a new kind of beer tasted like; the counter person opened a bottle and we both tasted it. I'm leery of samples that are just left out on the sales floor, though. God knows how many people have touched then. Oh, and I won't touch food if I can't wash my hands after.
  5. Then pay for the whole mushroom, go to the nearest trash can and throw the stems away there. This way, you are not only stealing, you are making a mess for the next person. This makes the original question seem incredibly subtle by comparison.
  6. It's also the kind of thing that makes stores put stuff behind the counter so you have to ask for it. You have to ask for packets of soy sauce at Mitsuwa now whereas a couple of years ago you didn't. It's called ruining it for the rest of us. I also agree with the comment about setting an example for the kids. My aunt is the kind of person who always pilfers complimentary items. We laugh about it but we're embarrassed when we're with her and she does it. On one level it's kind of cute, like people who make "lemonade" by asking for a lot of lemons to go with their ice water. On another, it's somewhat shady, and sad. In one of her novels, Alison Lurie has a character go into an airplane bathroom on a transatlantic flight and put all the toiletries in her bag. It says everything about that character: she is someone who feels like life is shortchanging her and she needs to take something for herself at every possible opportunity. She does learn and grow by the end of the book, mostly by getting laid I think. Edited to add: oh, taking stuff with advertising on it seems a little less bad to me, somehow. Still wouldn't want my kid to grow up in a house full of ketchup packets and airline silverware, though.
  7. I think the Chicago food board, lthforum dot com, will stay around unless someone decides to kill it and/or or the major players migrate elsewhere. It's a really good source of food news for that specific area. (I think the news part is key; there are people who are tireless about spotting and reporting developments, which is an ideal use of the board format imo.)
  8. That article is incredibly cursory. He's talking about markets in what? Seattle and Vermont? In my experience of cooking and shopping, it's nearly meaningless to talk about this or that market being more or less expensive than another. I visit a bunch of different markets and buy certain things from each, according to what is better or cheaper or available, period. I do watch the prices. Here in the Chicago area, I am pretty sure that if you can find an item at Jewel or Dominicks, it will almost always be cheaper than at most farmers markets. If it's at Super H Mart or Costco, it will be tons cheaper. But I don't go to the farmers market to get a wide range of things at lower prices; I go for things that are hard to find elsewhere or found only in markets that are still more expensive. I almost never see things like Michigan sour cherries outside of a farmers market, for instance. (And prices for such vary widely even among vendors at the same markets.) I think I would be shopping in very different ways if I lived in California or Hawaii or Nebraska.
  9. This. A lot of people start to question aspects of their drinking when they have kids-- wondering how it looks to the kids. That's probably a good thing. Strangely enough, I just saw a recovering alcoholic on TV admit that she stopped because her kid was referring to "mommy's juice"-- the wine she was drinking all the time. But that's the thing: if you're modeling bad behavior, it's not just at the point where you're buying the stuff. In fact if you are drinking to excess, I dare say being secretive about it it only makes it worse.
  10. That's interesting to me. Are these terrible Whole Foods markets that the company bought which were pre-existing as something else? It's hard to believe that they would build a brand new market and make it terrible. I really don't know what the deal is with that. As FoodTutor suggests, they may have bought a smaller property, but I don't think that can be all of it. I'm guessing it's like different branches of a Barnes and Noble or similar; some stores seemed to have been assigned different profiles based on demographics and travel patterns and things. The horrible WF is in a strip mall in an area where there are some pretty wealthy suburbs but all spread out. Actually, the more I think about it, I wonder why they have a store there at all.
  11. Not a book, but the Weight Watchers Recipe Cardsare classic. Even today, look through the diet cookbook section and you'll find a lot of gross things.
  12. That's one way to look at it but once you've driven to those 4 different supermarkets as well as your butcher, I would imagine that the opportunity cost + gasoline gets pretty close to the register receipt at WF. Actually not -- I said I was lucky. None of these stores are farther than three miles away, most within a mile and a half. My WF is within that geographical circle. Yes, the western suburbs are truly remarkable in the variety of markets they offer. They also have at least one horrible WF; honestly if I'd first stepped into that one, I would be mystified about why people ever went into a WF at all. (The people who work there are perfectly nice; they just have an awful selection.)
  13. Here in the Chicago area, I'd say it's about the same. My impression is that WF has become less expensive overall in the past 5 or so years. They are still expensive for produce compared with the big produce-oriented markets. Meanwhile their produce has (in my opinion and, again, in my local area) slipped terribly in quality. A lot seems to vary depending on your region and even from store to store in my region.
  14. I found the book a little slow to get off the ground but ultimately well worth reading. The discussions of business aspects of the restaurant were very interesting and I would have welcomed more. The NPR interview is great-- thanks for the link.
  15. Seconding the idea of anything shaped/constucted. If there are kids in the household, I am sure they would like to learn how to make sushi or rice balls, and most people enjoy those. For chilled dishes, I have monetarily forgotten the name of those slices of tofu topped with tomatoes and things-- so good in the summer. A meal with some of those items and chilled edamame, cucumbers, and pickles would be heaven in the hot weather. Anywhere in the US, you run the risk of people being upset about the idea of sushi containing raw fish, or certain textures. A lot of people I know are freaked out by eggplant and okra in any kind of dish. I wouldn't avoid those, just make sure to have some rice or something that anyone can eat.
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