Monday, October 10, 2011

neighborhood recommendation #21: grocery store.

it's hard to explain the deprivation one feels when thinking about the situation with local grocery stores in helsinki. after living in nyc and london, it feels even more desperate: a mere thought towards trader joe's and whole foods, and i feel like weeping.

there are a few – anton & anton, juuren puoti, eat&joy farmers' market and even my local little store, kaartin kotikauppa – that show the example of serving the neighborhood with quality, mostly organic fare with a heart.

i love the fact that the people whom i deal with daily recognize me, as i do them, and know what i like. although i am not one of those people who start a discussion with strangers, familiar friendliness comforts me. my heavy lids get a boost in the mornings from the sunny greeting and chatter from the guy behind the counter at sis.deli, and the classical music and attentive but informal service at kaartin kotikauppa win me over every time.

it's the sort of hybrid of anonymity and familiarity that entails what urban life at its best is all about. having your own neighborhood, your routines, people you share them with and thousands of others who walk by utterly unaware of who and what you're about.

about two weeks ago a very welcome newcomer opened a few blocks away. called aitokauppa ("real store"), it is a local attempt to provide everyone with fresh locavore food and serve the neighborhood with the sort of genuine interest that is rare but, oh, so treasured.

because we are not located in a transport hub such as new york nor in an area where year-round crops are possible, eating sustainably changes drastically how we plan and shop for food. aitokauppa's shelves are filled with dry goods and seasonal fresh products – gone are the days of just browsing a cookbook for inspiration and selecting whatever suits one's mood.

i, for one, welcome the new way of planning my daily menu. inspiration that builds from living in the moment is truly food for thought.

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