Since I arrived in Arlington, I’ve been trying to find the One True Grocery, and my search has been unfulfilled so far. I mentioned back on the first of November that I’ve been to a crazy number of different grocery stores since my arrival, and I still haven’t settled into a grocery routine here.
When I moved to Germany, I did some of my grocery shopping at the Globus near the office, but the vast majority was at the Kaufland a few minutes away from my apartment. Since I was walking to and from the grocery store there, I fell into the habit of only getting what I could carry. When I repatriated, I started grocery shopping with a car again and the amount of food that I bought was significantly larger. I have a tendency to overbuy, and it’s something I’ve mentioned before in this blog.
Here in Arlington, I’m somewhere between the two extremes. I’m not buying a lot of food, and that is in part because the grocery stores haven’t thrilled me yet. It’s really tough to top Publix. I’ve been to many different stores here so far, and these are my impressions so far:
- Harris Teeter – I Teetered my Harris on my first day in Arlington, and I haven’t been back. The one I went to was a two-story affair with a very confusing layout. It looked to me like what might happen if MC Escher was really into neon and wanted very much to make a knockoff of Whole Foods. I have not yet been to a second Harris Teeter to see if a different location might suit me better.
- Giant Food – I’ve been to two different Giants now. The first one was like a dirty, poorly stocked Winn Dixie where nineteen out of every twenty people completely ignored the directional arrows on the floor. The second one was a bit better, but I still had trouble finding everything I was looking for.
- Safeway – I’ve been to three different local Safeways so far, and the closest location off Lee Highway is the one I’ve actually gone back to more than once. They have a decent selection, and their Zebra Cakes are always really fresh. (Snack standards are important.) I was thinking that they reminded me a lot of Albertsons, but then I found out while fact checking this post that they’re actually a subsidiary of Albertsons now, so that tracks.
I haven’t bothered to shop in Target, Trader Joes, or Whole Foods, even though they’re reasonably close. I haven’t even seen a Wal-Mart, even though there’s gotta be one nearby. And last but not least, everyone keeps telling me Wegman’s is great, but I haven’t felt like driving half an hour each way for groceries.
If even a single one of these stores carried absolutely everything I wanted, I would keep going back to that one over and over again, but some things are just incredibly difficult to find.
For example, my favorite pickles are Claussen, but they’re not carried anywhere locally except for Wal-Mart. I did try Vlasic again, and I immediately regretted that decision. They taste like turmeric and existential dread.
As an aside, when I couldn’t find Claussen in six different stores, I turned to the Internet for reassurance that they were still being sold, and I was treated to the most delightfully unlikely sentence I’ve ever seen online:
“The Federal Trade Commission blocked the proposed merger on the grounds that it would have severe anticompetitive effects, leading to a monopoly in the refrigerated-pickle market.”
So that’s where things stand with the Great Grocery Selection of 2020. They opened a Wegman’s in Tyson’s Corner this week, so maybe I’ll finally give that a try this weekend. Or maybe I’ll finally give in and just go the Instacart route. If you’ve read this post all the way to the end, then bless your heart! It’s definitely not my most interesting work. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a treat, like a cookie or a White Claw or something. Treat. Yo. Self!
Do you have a favorite grocery store?
27/52 (and 6 of 30!)