Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I'm not sure what is responsible for the nearly complete sense of alienation that I experience almost every time I go into the supermarket. But today that feeling that I was a stranger in a strange land, coupled with a maddening resentment that I was dependent on such a vulgar and banal institution, would have been too much to bear if I was not such an intrinsically optimistic kind of guy :-)
I think what pushed me right up to the edge of running out of the door whilst tearing at the miserly patch of hair that my genome has determined will be the "freak flag" of my middle age, was the recognition that there was very little in that nearly 50 thousand square foot monstrosity that I could buy. I'm guessing that more than 90 % of the foodstuff in there is either offensive to me (think: pallid thawed fish; frozen/dehydrated/vacuum-sealed/canned bake, boil or nuke-n-serve space food) or so bizarre in appearance that I cannot think of it as food for humans. Even a lot of the "good stuff" sucks.
For example, they only sell Parmigiano Reggiano in wedges that have been vacuum-sealed. The vacuuming compresses the cheese and ruins the texture so all it is really good for is grating.
Take a good long look at the picture of supermarket shelves in the upper left hand corner of this post. Squint a bit so the divisions between the packages becomes blurred and the colors run together. Does it look like food?
I did not have an epiphany, not even close. I've felt like a stranger in a strange land when I shop in supermarkets for at least 30 years. But 30 years ago the markets were smaller, and with a lot less stuff that looked like it was designed to be eaten by people who were not so indifferent to what they were eating.