Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big City Life

When people who are not from San Diego ask me where in San Diego I live I say, "Have you heard of La Jolla?  (it's been in the news lately because that's where Mitt Romney is quadrupling this size of his vacation home)"  When they reply, "Oh yes.  It's so beautiful there."

I say, "Yea, I live in La Jolla's ugly step sister--just a few miles east but a world away."

My neighborhood is high rise apartment buildings (all 1 to 2 bedrooms) set down right next to 10-story office complexes. It's a hot spot for young families and retired couples--more affordable than La Jolla, still close to the beach but without the constant partying of some beach towns.  We love it here.  We love walking to the park and the library but there are some things that are less than desirable.

Our local grocery store has 2 isles dedicated to pet products, 2 isles dedicated to wine and spirits and 1/2 of 1 side of 1 isle dedicated to baking (which also includes boxed cake mixes).  You can buy flour in 5lb bags but nothing bigger.  This makes things tricky if you are trying to live on one salary and consequently have to cook 99% of your meals at home.

All of my neighbors who were not born in the United States (mostly Asian and Indian in this neighborhood) swear by a place called North Park Produce.  It's kind of far away but they swore that you could buy flour (whole wheat even!) in 20 and 50 lb bags and any kind of spice mix you can think of.  Today Claire and I made our way there (we're out of flour after making all of that Artisan bread) and North Park Produce did not disappoint.  It's small and crowded, has almost no parking and we were the only native English speakers there. Even though it's about 1/4 the size of our grocery store it carries a whole array of products that the local Ralphs does not.

We bought a 20 lb bag of what we hope is whole wheat flour (it's hard to know if it's white or red wheat and how finely it's ground because it's from some country where they don't use the same kind of letters we do but the pictures of the flat bread they were making looked like things we'd like to eat.  I'll let you know how it turns out.) They didn't carry unbleached AP flour in bulk so we're still in search of that.  If anyone has ideas let me know.

We also bought spice packs and some strange frozen ravioli (from Russia--which was weird but they looked good).  We bought carne asada, naan and all other kinds of delicious things.

The one thing we didn't buy was candy.  (I'm not sure how we resisted this face)

But my experience is that besides the rare exception of chocolate from Switzerland, Germany and Belgium no one does candy like America.  Sure Mexican sweet cookies are delicious but you know what would make them better?  Covering them with caramel and chocolate--oh wait, that's called a twix bar and it rocks.  Combining some form of baked good with caramel, chocolate, nuts and really anything else you could think of?  That can only happen in America people.


  1. Sallee...that is yummy Russian chocolate "Red October" to be precise. I love grocery stores like that...haven't found one in Minneapolis yet. Love your blog! Alison Rudy

  2. I love your blog as well. I'm always thrilled when you've written a new entry. I laughed out loud at this one because it's so true....I've got my French chocolate bars with me at the cabin (yes, I wish they were my favorite Swiss bars, but they're close). You have to be cautious when you're buying candies wrapped in individual wrappers from other countries...almost always yucky no matter the bright colors.

  3. My in laws just brought me some of that chocolate from Russia and it was so yummy!

  4. Bahaha, I love it. And have you tried a Take 5? Oh my... pretzels, caramel, peanut butter, peanuts, chocolate.


    Thank you America.

  5. Oh. My. Gosh. I want to be there just for that meat counter. I could make the most amazing sausages!!!