On Tonight's Card: Anne vs. Wegmans
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we just witnessed the final day of school at the Vo-Tech where Anne substitutes!
Wouldn't it be dull and lifeless if only one student had come out of the building, cheered into the echoing stillness, got into his or her car, and drove away honking?
Think of the Class of 2006 as a bunch of bored gods! Enough for a party, for a caravan of honking, cheering, hugging, kissing, paper-flinging -- and overjoyed -- students! Adopt a pantheon today! One is the loneliest number.
With much fanfare, a Wegmans super duper market has opened in my neighborhood. Maybe you've heard of this phenomenon. They have a huge cafe, a coffee shop, cases and cases of prepared food that you can take home, chefs doing cooking demonstrations. Then they have oodles and oodles of fresh organic produce (a dozen varieties of apples alone), and all the conventional produce. Little kiosks sell fresh-baked cookies. It took them a month to get the brick oven properly fired up so it can spit out designer bread. You can buy morels at $40 a pound and shrimp so large you only get 4 to a pound. Yep, a quarter pounder shrimp.
Cheese? Have they got cheese! I counted seven different brands of goat cheese (my particular interest of course).
Then they have a humongous specialty section with Japanese soft drinks, German pickled beets, English cookies, Israeli crackers, whole kosher aisles, organic canned goods, and organic cosmetics, etc. etc. etc. After you've slogged through this, you come to a more or less conventional, albeit humongous, grocery store.
If by conventional you include a freezer holding six different varieties of Klondike bars.
All of this presented to you in a dimly-lit, cavernous complex with a burnt-orange steel ceiling that admits no light. As in a casino, you can't tell if it's daytime or nighttime outside.
Still, I was curious.
I decided to make a list of items that a snobby mega-store like Wegmans ought to have, then put this behemouth to the test. It was a short list:
1. Sour cherries. AKA pie cherries.
2. Tab Cola. Not "Tab Energy."
3. (Bonus item - automatic A-plus)
4. Antipodes Sparkling Water, product of New Zealand.
The results of my Wegmans test:
1. The nice guy in Produce said I was the second person to ask for pie cherries in a week, but they did not have any fresh ones, only frozen ones. This is peak pie cherry season. (Score= 0)
2. Three different kinds of Dr. Pepper and three varieties of Sprite. No Tab cola. Not a single six-pack. (Score= 0)
3. Okay, all right, they aren't gonna have this item, the 2006 Gold Medal-winner at the Berkeley Springs Water Tasting Festival. But considering the fact that the Antipodes company sent two representatives to Berkeley Springs just in the hope of winning a medal and increasing the brand's exposure in America, you'd think a top-class shopping experience like Wegmans would stock it. (Score= 0)
There you have it. Wegmans flunks the Anne test!
Ooooops! I forgot the worst of it!
A nice lady was handing out little paper cup samples containing a melange of prime cured olives, sun-dried marinated tomatoes, and feta cheese. Had to try that one. A registered goat judge knows her feta like a NASCAR driver knows his racer.
"What is in this feta?" I asked, as a peculiar sensation developed on my tastebuds.
"Oh, that's a very special cheese," the lady purred. "It's half goat cheese and half sheep cheese."
AAAAAAAUUUUUUUGHHH! Sacrilage! Blasphemy! Armageddon Has Arrived!
A mixture of goat and sheep? Well hell, why don't we just go get a bottle of Chardonnay and stir it into a bottle of Shiraz? Bet that'll taste swell.
Ack. I'm still tasting that cloned disaster of a cheese.
So, the million dollar question in this lengthy entry:
Did I buy anything?
Well, readers, I was there. You know how it is.
I bought eggs, a quart of Breyer's vanilla ice cream, Berry Berry Kix cereal, and Schwepps tonic water. All items needed immediately at Chateau Johnson. And, I might note, all items that I can purchase at the little grocery store within walking distance, the dear little Acme, crammed into a former Quaker meetinghouse and staffed with union labor.
Wegmans: A monument to conspicuous consumption, a symbol of American excess, the newest hangout for those rich people who got George Bush's tax breaks. By aisle 132 you have vertigo, by checkout you're pledging the flag.
THE MERLIN OF ACME MARKETS