Stuff I Really Kind of Like About My Life at Home: Wegmans

November 18, 2012

One of my favorite things to do in China was to go grocery shopping.

I know that sounds lame, but this is me we’re talking about. And lame is just kind of this thing I do.

Besides, I assure you it was a good time.

I mean, I could spend entire afternoons walking up and down the aisles, gawping at the weird stuff and wondering what the heck it was.

I think these are eels. Maybe.

Even if there was some kind of English explanation on the packaging, I would still usually end up wondering what the heck it was.

Oh, yes. “Nourishing Wisdom of China.” That makes TOTAL sense. For a breakfast cereal.

And then I’d buy it. Because sometimes you just need to know what the “Nourishing Wisdom of China” tastes like already.

Turns out it tastes exactly like black sesame seed paste.

And now you know.

Another thing I loved about Chinese supermarkets was how huge and sprawly they were.

Ooo, sprawly.

In Japan, I could barely make my way down the teeny, tiny aisles of the teeny, tiny shops, with my teeny, tiny basket and my not-so-teeny-tiny American self.

Meanwhile, the aisles in my local Chinese grocery store were wide enough for at least two, standard-sized, grocery carts to pass each other.

Well, the aisles were technically wide enough for that kind of thing.

But, as I’ve mentioned before, grocery shopping in China is something of a defensive sport. Kind of like driving in China. So there’s really no “passing.” Mostly just lots of pushing and shoving and muttering English swear words under your breath. (Okay, maybe I was the only one doing that last one.)

And while the selection of dairy products might have been dismal, they did have a surprisingly huge selection of other items. Granted, these were usually items you never thought you’d need a huge selection of.

Like honey. Seriously, guys. China is really into their honey.

Yes, this is an entire aisle of honey. Because who doesn’t need seventy-two different kinds of honey?

And all manners of dried fruits. In flavors you never really thought dried fruits could come in.

Mmmm… pepperminty prunes. Just what you’ve always wanted. RIGHT?

And, of course, chicken feet. Which were available individually packaged. For when you just don’t want to share.

Or by the pound. For when just one chicken foot won’t do!

Still not sold on how fabulous Chinese grocery stores truly are?

Well, I have two words for you: booze aisle.

Yep, the grocery store had an entire aisle full of alcohol – everything from French wines to German beers to Russian vodka.

I apologize for not having a photo of the booze aisle. This is probably because I was usually too busy grabbing booze off the shelves to be bothered with taking photos of it.

You’ll just have to believe me that it was there.

And, seriously, does this look like the face of a woman who would lie to you about alcohol?

Would I lie to you?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

As much as I loved my Chinese grocery stores, I can’t say I miss them much.

Maybe things would be different if I had moved to some other part of the States – like some part of the country where people are forced to do their grocery shopping in stores that don’t have approximately five hundred types of cheese.

But I moved to Buffalo, where we have Wegmans.

WEGMANS, YOU GUYS.

I mean, as far as grocery stores go, things don’t get much better than Wegmans.

Is it me or can you totally see the face of God in the clouds above the Wegmans’ sign? And he’s totally smiling.

To be honest, I don’t even think Wegmans qualifies as a mere grocery store. It’s more like a wonderland of awesome and dairy products.

What’s that you say?

You’ve never even heard of Wegmans?

Well, you might want to stop reading.

And, whatever you do, you’re not going to want to look at this photo of the fancy, gourmet cheese case.

Avert your eyes.

Which, I should mention is, like, one of nine fancy, gourmet cheese cases at my local Wegmans. This doesn’t even include the cases full of non-fancy, non-gourmet cheeses. You know, the kind of cheeses that haven’t been aged in a Norwegian cave for the last twenty-five years.

You’re just going to want to go find another blog that’s not going to make you feel all sad and inferior and like you’ve been living a life without any meaning. Or, at least, a life without an adequate supply of cheese. Which, if you’re anything like me, is pretty much the same thing.

Still here?

Fine.

Go ahead.

Stay.

But don’t blame me when you find yourself lying awake at night wondering how you can carry on with your life knowing that there is an ENTIRE GROCERY STORE FULL OF CHEESE THAT YOU’VE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF BEFORE.

Ahem.

And, let me tell you, it’s not just the cheeses that are classy at Wegmans.

Everything is classy there.

Even stuff you never thought could be classy is classy there.

Like the candy corn

Blackberry cobbler candy corn anyone? I do believe it’s freshly baked.

And the bathroom graffiti.

You know it’s a classy joint when the graffiti is literary.

Being surrounded by all that classy stuff always makes me feel all classy myself. It makes me feel like I’m the type of person who actually knows what radicchio is. Even though I totally don’t. (So, apparently, according to the Wikipedia, it’s some kind of leafy vegetable. Which is news to me as I thought it had something to do with bacon. That was probably just wishful thinking on my part.)

I thought I would miss gawping at all the weird stuff like I used to do in Chinese grocery stores. But, you know what, I still find myself gawping at the weird stuff in Wegmans and wondering what the heck it is.

Even though it’s all in English.

Like, for example, there’s an entire aisle in the store labeled “New Age Beverages.” What does that even mean, you guys? I’m kind of scared to walk down that aisle for fear that I’ll turn into a hippie and start smelling like patchouli.

And, today, I bought this:

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s SUPER YOGURT!

I have no idea what makes it “super,” but it better make me fly or give me X-ray vision or I’m asking for a refund.

And, while there is no wine or hard liquor in the Wegmans’ booze aisle, there is a mighty fine selection of beer, including lots of local microbrews and imported beers.

And, they have this awesome thing where you can make your very own variety six-pack.

Craft my own pack? Don’t mind if I do.

Because, sometimes, you’re just not so sure you’re going to like something that claims to contain “The Spirit of the Finger Lakes,” and you don’t really want to commit to six whole bottles of it. I mean, that’s a whole lot of Finger Lakes, if you ask me.

Admittedly, as wonderful as Wegmans is (I’ve mentioned the cheese, right?) there is one little thing I miss about Chinese grocery stores.

One little thing I never, ever thought I’d miss.

Yep.

You guessed it.

I miss all the pushing and shoving.

Sure, I was never a fan of having little old Chinese ladies attempt to run me over with their grocery carts full of live eels. But, as I’ve mentioned before, pushing and shoving can make things terribly efficient.

Being the classy kind of joint that it is, hardly anyone ever pushes and shoves at my local Wegmans. And, when they do, it’s usually a mistake. And, not, say, a premeditated effort to kill you.

Instead, everyone stands in line and waits their turn.

Which means it takes me FOREVER to shop there.

You mean I have to take a number and WAIT? What now?

And sometimes you just want to get home already so you can crack open a bottle of the new beer you just bought. Because maybe you just need to know what the “The Spirit of the Finger Lakes” tastes like already, okay?

Turns out it tastes exactly like beer.

And now you know.

What’s your favorite grocery store shopping experience?
 
P.S. Wegmans didn’t give me anything to say nice things about them. But if you happen to work for Wegman’s, I will totally accept compensation in the form fine cheeses and fruity beer. Or X-ray vision.
44

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm Susanna said:

    The whole aisles of honey thing is because in China people buy honey for very specific purposes. I bought a jar of “honey for mid- and old-age”. There’s also honey for children, but I’m a bit mature for that. Also, you’re killing me with all the cheese descriptions…
    Susanna recently posted..Caffeine dreams

  2. On November 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm Deedee said:

    Shop at the Wegmans on Amherst Street. You’ll get plenty of pushing and shoving there.

  3. On November 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm Priya said:

    That’s it! I’m coming to Buffalo! Really, I’ll go anywhere where there’s cheese… even Wegmans. And Sally, don’t worry. When we meet in person, I’ll do a lot of pushing and shoving, possibly at Jewel or Whole Foods. It’ll be like you’ve never left China.
    Priya recently posted..I’m Cheating On My Gym With Hot Yoga Classes

  4. On November 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm Charlie said:

    I love to go to supermarkets anywhere I go for a trip … They are indeed an insight into a country’s psyche. I am actually quite fond of the American supermarket (and surprised to hear that you do have places with cheese sel
    Ectons coz normally I just find this weird looking orange stuff). You have about seventy versions of pop tarts. We only have two here (Australia). I find that quite exciting although I don’t usually have a toaster so it is useless excitement unless I try to bring my own stuff top a breakfast buffet – maybe I will try that next time!
    Charlie recently posted..Staghorn Cable Wrist Warmers: March 7th to 8th.

  5. On November 19, 2012 at 2:34 am Kristin said:

    I lived in Ithaca (where your pictured beer is from!) before moving to Shanghai in early 2012. You really just made me miss Wegmans. I’ve spent hours wandering those aisles and that was BEFORE moving to China and finding out about the lack of dairy. Thanks for the drool inducing memories
    Kristin recently posted..Street Eats: Jian Bing

    • On November 19, 2012 at 7:04 am Sally said:

      To go directly from Wegman’s to the itty bitty dairy sections in China had to be hard. At least, I did some time in Japan beforehand so I knew exactly what to expect — no decent cheese ever.

  6. On November 19, 2012 at 3:12 am Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu said:

    After three years plus in China, what do my kids dream of when we talk about going back to Australia? Pristine beaches? Endless sunshine? Friends and family? No, no and no.

    They talk about the lolly aisle at our local Woolworths supermarket. Like, endlessly. But I’m sure if they were just a bit older it would be the cheese aisle…..
    Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu recently posted..Heavenly Lugu Lake 泸沽湖

  7. On November 19, 2012 at 6:53 am Julika said:

    I always believed it was slightly strange that I love grocery shopping so much – whether at home or on the road, I just think it’s super interesting what the food industry came up with lately… So good to hear that there are more of us, uhm, grocery-nerds (?) out there!
    And just one quick question – did you actually spend enough time in the honey aisle to count all the seventy-two kinds of them? If so, I’m impressed. Big time.

    • On November 19, 2012 at 7:02 am Sally said:

      Seventy-two was just an estimate… but now that I look at the picture, I’m pretty sure that I was underestimating the numbers of different types of money. I mean, there was a LOT of different honey.

  8. On November 19, 2012 at 7:26 am Sid said:

    Yeah, I don’t really have any interesting stories about Grocery Stores. It isn’t really one of South Africa’s major attractions.
    My friends and I did get chased through the mall, by a beggar once …
    Sid recently posted..Karoo Cafe, Galapagos Islands and kleptoparasites

  9. On November 19, 2012 at 10:22 am Carmel said:

    I’m a dork. I totally love grocery shopping. My husband, on the other hand, does not. When we first started living together he would get really annoyed when I would wander down the aisles and end up forgetting something on our list that was inevitably on the other side of the store. I didn’t mind, though. My favorite store is New Seasons, but that’s a local chain. Kind of like Whole Foods, but better (in my opinion).

    • On November 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm Sally said:

      He doesn’t love grocery shopping? But what is there not to love about it? It’s a STORE FULL OF FOOD! Sheez. Some people. And now I have to go Google search New Seasons.

  10. On November 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm kathy said:

    I was wondering if I could borrow you for my Thanksgiving dinner.
    You would be the ultimate guest to have at the table and I would supply you wilt all the booze and cheese a girl could ever want!

  11. On November 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm The Guy said:

    Great post. It reminds me of battling around Carrefour in Shanghai. A lot of the food/fish was live in trays on the floor just waiting for you to pick them.
    The Guy recently posted..Singapore silliness

  12. On November 20, 2012 at 11:15 am Maria said:

    So how is the spirit of finger lakes?

    Great post; laughed, cried, laughed, snorted.

    Thanks
    Maria recently posted..21 Linear Feet

  13. On November 21, 2012 at 11:57 am 50+ and on the Run said:

    You continue to make me smile…Happy Thanksgiving, Sally!
    50+ and on the Run recently posted..13 Tips for a Perfect Thanksgiving

  14. On November 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm Annie said:

    Haha, I just love your blog!!! :) Made me smile!

  15. On November 22, 2012 at 10:19 am Katie said:

    Awesome post. I love grocery shopping in other countries. I was in a Walmart in Jinan, China, once and the sign describing the contents of the aisle filled with booze was labelled “Health Foods.”

  16. On November 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm Selly said:

    Have I ever mentioned that your blog posts crack me up?

  17. On November 23, 2012 at 11:20 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Peppermint prunes?!? Hahahaha! Ohhh dear! The Korean grocery shopping experience is exactly the same as the Chinese one, by the sounds of things. You don’t even want to see how Koreans behave around the free food samples. I’m surprised I haven’t been stabbed with a cocktail stick.

    I hear you on the whole dairy section of heaven thing, though. I’m having withdrawal symptoms here. I stared longingly at a small, ridiculously overpriced block of cheddar for a good few minutes before my boyfriend had to drag me away. I squealed and hugged a jar of horseradish sauce when I found it, too.

    Also, I’m slightly terrified of the sound of a new age beverages aisle…I’ve yet to come across one in the UK, but a lot can change in a year…
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Malaysia’s Big Breakfast – The Nasi Lemak

    • On November 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm Sally said:

      Once in Japan, I went shopping & came home with a chunk of cheese & 3 sweaters. The chunk of cheese cost more than the 3 sweaters combined. I thought you might be able to relate to that story.

  18. On November 24, 2012 at 3:34 am Colleen said:

    You are so right on with the grocery store love. Glad I’m not alone! (Love your China posts!) I’m in China right now and do plenty of market wandering. Today I found charcoal-smoked plums and snake gall oil shampoo and pig snouts and fried duck heads and and and… Do you see such and such important place? People ask me. Nope, but I’ve been in every grocery store in the neighborhood.

  19. On November 27, 2012 at 4:30 am Chaya Shepard said:

    YES! True quote from my husband after returning from the grocery store here in China yesterday: “Honey, I bought these things today at the store, could you take them to work and ask somebody if they’re figs or insect grubs?”
    Chaya Shepard recently posted..Chinese Zoos: An Intercultural Experience

  20. On December 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm cosmoHallitan said:

    When our friends from Japan came to visit us in the States, we dropped them off at Wegmans and picked them up a few hours later. I think it was the highlight of their trip! And what is with all the honey at Chinese grocery stores? On my first trip I was standing in the honey aisle trying to decide between the 70 different kinds when a little old Chinese lady comes over, grabs a bottle off the shelf and hands it to me. Then she gives me the thumbs up sign and shows me that she has the same bottle in her own cart. Priceless!
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Celebrating Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

  21. On February 10, 2013 at 12:32 pm Ceri said:

    Since coming here I’ve discovered Walmart. And, uhhh … yeah, what? I get completely overwhelmed with Walmart. How do people shop there without getting lost? And how do they choose what to buy when there’s SOOOOO much variety?
    Ceri recently posted..Twenty Six

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