Is it wrong to love your supermarket?

Is it wrong to love your supermarket?

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

OK, so this is not strictly about Italy. What it is about is the respect for ingredients that goes into good cooking – and for me that means Italian cooking. Well, the French and Spanish are pretty good if they don’t get carried away with thinking that food is art or a science experiment. And the orientals do a fine job as well but my heart, as you know belongs to Italy. One nice thing about being in the San Francisco Bay area is that we get some really fine ingredients here. So I am here to laud the one and only Berkeley Bowl. Of course there are two of them so maybe it’s not strictly the one but let’s not quibble too much here. The curious name originated because the store started in a former bowling alley. I do remember the tight aisles, uneven floors and still the fantastic produce in particular. So they moved into a former supermarket space (Safeway I think) and became a full fledged market. So now you can get environmentally friendly toilet paper and cleaning products at the same place as all of the great things to ingest. Add to this that the prices are absolutely the best and it’s just hard to imagine living without them. So here are a few photos. Due to the absence of a wide angle lens it is really hard to do it justice. So we start first with produce and fruit – the shining star of this place.

I couldn’t show all of the fruit. One of the other sides of an aisle shown is all citrus at that time of year. Of course now the stone fruit is all gone and replaced mostly with great tangerines, tangelos and persimmons. Next stop is the veggie section. Again I really can’t do it justice because it is so extensive with veggies that all Americans know and love plus a lot that are more familiar to those versed in oriental or latin cooking – it’s all there.

It goes without saying that there is almost every imaginable aromatic vegetable – garlic, onions of all shapes, sizes and colors, shallots. Then of course the root vegetable of every description both organic and not. Salad ingredients, spinach, chard – the mind reels. Of course there are all of those staples. There is an extensive section of bulk ingrediants, peas, beans, nuts, flours, dried fruits – egad! And adjacent to that both the fancy pants seafood and the regular stuff.

There is of course an extensive meat section, dairy, bread, cheese, olives, bread and a substantial deli section.

Of course I could go on and on (an in fact am) but one last thought – the wall of beer!

Of course I love the markets in Italy _ Padova and Venice (Rialto) come to mind. Also there are good markets elsewhere in the U.S. Some people swear by Whole Foods. Good stuff but, my, what prices! Fairway market in Manhatten is great and not far from Zabars – both great places and with Citarella in between for fabulous if pricey seafood. Still for the quality, scope and value I’ve yet to find anything to beat Berkeley Bowl. If you have a market you love let us all know with a comment.

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