May 23rd, 2019

picnic

Pete's

The word for this post is "serendipity." My Mom had mentioned that I should call my cousin and chat with her. She is just one year older than me, she never married, and has struggled over the years with her career. But she's always happy-go-lucky and takes the time to check up on Mom from time to time. So I called her up and we talked about random things. I mentioned that I planned on hitting up the Polish supermarket to get food. She mentioned that she had read about a local chain opening up a new store in the western suburbs and they had quite a selection of ethnic food. We finally decided to meet up there and perhaps have dinner afterward. I would bring Mom along so she could have an adventure as well.

The place was called "Pete's" and judging from the ad it was a cross between Sprouts, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods. My expectations we fairly low. It looked like just another supermarket. When we got inside, however, all of my expectations were blown out of the water. I knew this was something special when I walked down the mustard aisle and was presented with about 50-100 varieties of mustard. Unlike most supermarkets where you have a wall of some major brand with a smattering of smaller brands, here there was a small space allocated to bunches and bunches of brands. Walmart is the worst! You have a monoculture of their discount brand to the exclusion of everything else. Here you had choices that would make your head explode.

Their meat department was huge, and I picked up a couple of fresh Polish sausages (we had them for dinner tonight and the verdict was "meh." They needed more "bam.") Then we discovered the Polish aisle. O...M...G! They had EVERYTHING! I posted here on LJ awhile back that I'm happy to be at this stage in my life when price/cost doesn't really concern me any more. I can afford simple pleasures without question. That totally clicked in at this point. I loaded up the cart with as much tasty/weird ethnic food as I could. There were pickled beets, sauerkraut, horseradish, cabbage salads, mushrooms, all kinds of weird soups from borscht to sour rye, and bizarre beverages like fermented rye soda. I wanted to try anything and everything. I loaded up the cart with reckless abandon.

My Mom and cousin got mesmerized by the jam/jelly aisle where they were confronted by several dozen flavors. I went down the Asian aisle and found several dozen varieties of lentils/beans as well as a few dozen varieties of rice. I picked up some wasabi powder from Japan for those times I cook up seared ahi tuna. The beer aisle had lots of Polish beer as well as beers from around the world. There was a hot food section that would put any mall food court to shame. By the time I hit the checkout, I was exhausted! And I managed to leave with a cart full of wild and wacky food for under $100.

Just in case Pete's turned out to be a bust, there was a branch of the Polish store I usually go to right across the street. We headed over there after dinner so I could pick up 10 lbs of Polish sausage as well as several packages of pirogi. Normally I would also pick up several cases of Polish beer for when my homies come over for Thanksgiving weekend, but since we'll be partying on a cruise this year, it wasn't that big of a concern. It was a moot point, however, since this branch didn't sell liquor. We provided the cashier with huge lulz when Mom and I got to the checkout at the same time. I told Mom that the store didn't have a liquor department. Mom blurted out "No beer?!?" and the clerk lost it. Here was this little old Polish lady totally shocked that there was no beer! She was still laughing and going "No beer?!?" as we walked out the door. I luvs my Mom!