I have had a lifelong love affair with grocery stores. Proof:
– I cried when I had to leave my preschool field trip to the grocery store early because I missed the part where the bakery was going to make frosting rosettes for each of us.
thought still think it would be awesome to have a sleepover in a grocery store.
– I thought that “Publix” (our grocery store in Florida) and “public” were synonymous until I was about five. In my mind, there was no more important public/x forum.
– One of my favorite parts of the newspaper to read in high school were the grocery store circulars.
– I have been known to use a spare half hour or hour to wander aimlessly—and often sample my way—through grocery stores.
– I wrote my college Writing I course research paper on controversies surrounding Whole Foods.
– The day I moved to Chicago, after a full day of flying and acquiring furniture, I made it a priority to visit all three grocery stores in my neighborhood.
– Kate and I made a grocery store tour video for the first year medical students.
I find grocery stores to be a fascinating representation of the neighborhood in which they reside. Each reveals something about the people who shop there and about the culture of the area. In food deserts, the paucity of fruits and vegetables and predominance of packaged chips and cookies highlights health disparities. In contrast, the glistening array of all manners of produce that shine brightly in higher-end stores speaks to the access its shoppers have to bountiful, healthy food choices. In Latin grocery stores in Miami, the pastry counter teems with croquetas, pastelitos, and empanadas, greeting its shoppers with familiar flavors of home.
One of my most recent grocery escapades was to Patel Brothers, a South Asian grocery store in Chicago’s Devon neighborhood. The shelves were stacked from floor to ceiling with every type of spice, sugar, dried fruit, flour, bean, and grain imaginable. There were fruits and vegetables I had never seen before (banana flowers!?). It was amazingly overwhelming. Although time constraints didn’t allow me the luxury of being there for hours (trust me, I could have spent all day there), I did manage to score some great items. I used two of my purchases—mango ginger chutney and garam masala—in this sweet and spicy chickpea concoction. Like the greens and beans recipe Kate recently posted, this one is similarly fast to put together, but the leftovers made for three days of comforting meals after busy schooldays when galavanting around grocery stores is just a distant dream.
Curried Chutney Chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1/3 cup mango ginger chutney (could also use another flavor of chutney or preserves you have on hand, such as apricot)
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Generous squirt of sriracha or other hot sauce
1 bunch of kale, chopped (or other leafy green)
Salt to taste
Roasted cashews or sliced toasted almonds, for serving (optional)
Heat olive oil on medium high hit in a large skillet. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add orange zest, curry powder, garam masala, and chutney and stir until combined. Allow mixture to cook for another minute for the spices to incorporate. Add tomato sauce and sriracha and stir to incorporate. Add kale and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes, until kale is wilted but still slightly tender. Add salt to taste. Serve atop grains (rice, couscous, quinoa) or with a sweet potato (my favorite!) and sprinkle with cashews or almonds.