Monday, October 5, 2009

Reflections on the RV Lifestyle--Grocery Shopping Across the USA

We all have to eat so we all buy groceries.  For the RVer, this mundane, routine task can become a real adventure or a source of frustration.

One of the great things about traveling around America is being able to experience the many different cultures from cajun to Italian to German.  Local markets in the various regions of our country provide the foods eaten by the people of those regions.  One of the things we like to do is browse through the supermarkets to see the products not available in Tennessee.  We were astounded to find chicken feet in a small grocery in South Carolina.  I’d never seen chicken feet for sale in my life.  I have to admit I did not search out and did not try a local recipe for chicken feet.  I remembered, as a child visiting my grandparents, that my grandmother would kill a chicken for Sunday dinner.  When the parts were divided up among the animals, the cats got the feet.  I can only hope the feet being sold in that market were for the farm cats of the area.

Last year in New York we were delighted at the bagel selection in all the grocery stores, large and small.  Of course, we have bagels in Tennessee now (I can remember when we didn’t) and a few stores carry a few varieties which they sell individually.  Walking into the groceries in New York was like walking into a bagel factory and most had a counter where you could purchase a cup of coffee and get a cream cheese spread to go with your warm bagel.  Also in New York was the first place I had seen fresh pizza dough for sell.  Boy, was that easy and it sure beat the ready made crusts or the box mix I sometimes get when I’m trying to fixed a more heart healthy pizza.

In Texas, we were amazed at the selection of all manner of Mexican food products, both prepared foods in the delis and boxed and canned products on the shelves.  In southern Alabama, we liked being able to get fresh gulf shrimp at small seafood markets.  You get the idea.

There are a few disadvantages of shopping around.  Being southerners, there are regional foods we like to eat which are hard to find outside of the deep south.  Can I mention black-eyed peas and turnip greens again?  I have learned a valuable lesson from our friends Gordon and Juanita (Seeing the USA in our Chevrolet) who discarded their sofa in favor of a small chest freezer.  They put away a stash of their favorite foods from various areas of the country and they are there handy when that particular urge strikes.  I’m not quite ready to give up the sofa, but I do have a larger freezer now that can be put to better use.

Another disadvantage is never being familiar with a store.  I spend umpteen hours grocery shopping because I never know where anything is.  The other day, at my old familiar Kroger, everything on my list was in my basket within a few minutes.  This is usually not a big deal, but occasionally I want to just run in to pick up a can of chicken broth (to boil those chicken feet in) and end up walking about a mile before finding the soup aisle.

Just a few thoughts relevant to RVing.  I may have other thoughts on another day when I’ve stayed inside and accomplished almost nothing.

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