What can make grown women jump up and down in a parking lot, squealing for joy?
Whole Foods has come to town.
I wish I could say I got a special tour — because I AM A BLOGGER — but really, I just slouched in with everyone else getting a pre-opening tour. That’s okay. I was thrilled to be there. The rows of empty produce baskets and shelves taunted me.
This man gave me a tiny free cup of delicious coffee, roasted on site, made specially just for me. I could taste the America. I’m in love with him. Just a little bit.
Casks of wine, where you can bring your refillable, reusable, recyclable wine bottle for a fresh pour. (Not bulk olive oil, as I prematurely imagined, influenced by Martha-Stewart-tinged memories of stateside Whole Food adventures. Whole Foods, you have so much to teach me.)
Bulk spices! Piles of glory! And the countertops are recycled church benches! Because we are here to worship.
Bulk legumes! Scoop out some goodness!
What?! There’s a bar in Whole Foods? I also love the man who gave me this fine sample of a local beer.
Um … and I also love this man, who gave me super-fine slices of three-year dry-aged ham. It was like eating the god of bacon.
This man was a little too excited about me taking his photo. I’m not in love with him. But I like him just fine. He has a very large knife.
I … ah … yummy.
I’ve been avoiding breads, lately. I have a feeling that may change. At least a little. At least once.
And this lovely man gave me a sample of braised pork with some kind of honey-chipotle elixir. I add him to my string of new loves.
Burp. Okay, there’s room for one more … buttery salmon …
There’s even an outdoor space with a (very small) play area, tables, and a fire pit. As the guide said: “Ambiance.“
Whole Foods plied me with lovely food samples, and sent me home with all sorts of goodies — but I promise, the goodies had nothing to do with this post. It probably sounds absurd and shallow, and it’s not like I could afford to shop at Whole Foods back home all the time, but finding a familiar store in a new country — products, ethos, styling — is an almost desperate comfort. It will be interesting to see how the store does in this already-saturated-with-groceries town. Whole Foods appears to be marketing itself as a destination, a lifestyle experience: come for a morning yoga class, stay for a coffee, pick up some organic/ethically-sourced/lux specialty items, watch a cooking demo, grab a fresh custom pizza from the deli before you go.
(Don’t worry, we’ll soon be back to our regularly scheduled castles or ghost stories or cultural adjustments — just as soon as I go grab a cup of coffee at my new favorite cafe … )