Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Valli Blog.

What was it the Emperor Titus is reputed to have said if a day passed without him doing a good deed? "I have wasted a day," though it would be in Latin that I have forgotten. So much for my half-baked Classical education.

I don't shy away from an occasional good deed, but for me I've wasted a day if I haven't seen or done something new, no matter how minor. In fact, most new things need to be small, and thus manageable. A constant parade of stupendous new sensations would pave the road to madness, I think.

Today I visited a new grocery store, Valli Produce in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. It was, as I said, a minor new place to see. But interesting for a variety of reasons. It's an independent, for one thing. There seem to be only two of them, both in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. But they aren't small grocery stores. Mid-sized, I would say, in the world of modern groceries, and arrayed pretty much like any other store, with aisles and sections for meat, produce, bread, etc.

Valli has the broadest selection of ethnic foods I've seen anywhere, and that includes in the city of Chicago, where space is at a premium and ethnic grocers tend to be more specifically East Asian or Indian or Central European or various subsets of those. Though I didn't have time to investigate Valli as closely as I wanted to, I got an eyeful -- I glanced at soft drinks imported from India, Polish confections, and vegetables usually seen in Chinese and Japanese cooking. My favorite: a sign hanging over one of the aisles letting customers know that Bulgarian Food was close by.

Moreover, the place was doing a bust-up business, just before closing on a weeknight. People representing many cultures wandered the aisles. Don't let anyone tell you the suburbs are homogeneous.


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