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Friday, August 8, 2014

Food, Inglorious Food

The Great Jones Family Vaca was on Cheat Lake in West Virginia. We were in a self-catering type set up. Cool! I absolutely LOVE being on vaca and not having to go to restaurants for every blessed meal.

Back when Jen and I were visiting my cousin Della in Berlin, we stayed at a sweet little studio apartment. It was awesome. Just across the street there was a small grocery with everything we needed.

In our rural West Virginia locale, we needed to pile into the car. Luckily everyone had iPhones with internet access and GPS hookups. We (and by “we” I mean Jeff and Jenny) were able to find a big box type food emporium relatively nearby.

Dunno if y’all experience this  — maybe it’s just me. I went into a bit of culture shock in the Shop and Save. I was expecting a grocery, more or less, like the Stop and Shop here in Quincy. Nothing fancy but I can get most everything I need.

some poor crab's on crutches now!

At the Shop and Save there wasn’t a soy product to be found. No soy cheese, milk or even edamanes! And god help you if you’re looking for organics, tofu or kale chips. Don’t dare imagine, for even one slim sec, that you’ll find seitan either. Oh my no, you can forget about that.

Apart from that, the lighting was, well, just odd. I don’t imagine the store was gritty dirty as though the shelves hadn’t been dusted and floors not mopped in weeks but that’s how it appeared. It must have been the dull, watery lighting. Must have. Right?

There was a bakery section. Normally, not being a gourmet, I just drool and freak over sugary store-made offerings. This time? Not so much. This cake caught my eye right off. The frosting doodles gracing the edges looked like brightly colored slugs. Cheery and appealing if you’re into neon hued, slimy gastropods, I guess.

Then we got to the fish section. Now, I still eat fish but that’s def coming to an end, especially after this excursion. Not only were there racks of sad shrinkwrapped, whole fish staring at me with their sightless eyes (yes, I wanted to open all the packages and set them free or, at least, check for a pulse) there were rows of truncated crab legs — some, it seemed, as long as my own.

I felt distinctly ill.

As my Italian pal Cindy always says, if I lived in Italy I’d be a complete vegan. Yes, I can’t eat a poor beast if I’ve seen it whole (or in obvious animalian pieces) before being cooked. Tinned tuna — yes, this I can still do. Maybe.

In the deli section, here at home, I can find veggie sushi. At the Cheat Lake Shop and Save I found purple eggs. ‘the hell? Is it Easter? Nope. Are purple eggs a delicacy in these parts?

Unsurprisingly, I found a vast selection of Bob Evans pre-packaged, sodium rich, heart attack breakfast "food". They also carry industrial sized containers of Cheese Balls.  And, for your daily ration of fruit, there’s Apple or Strawberry Ale.

I found, on Yelp, this review of the joint:

I will never enter this store again. The place is nasty, the people are rude, and I have picked up numerous items which have expired long ago. My biggest complaint is that the people must have been interviewed and hired based upon their complete lack of people skills and native intelligence. Is there a rating less than one star?
I can’t speak to the rudeness business — I didn’t interact with anyone but the check out clerk, who seemed fine and dandy. Still and all, if I ever find myself in Cheat Lake West Virginia again, I’ll bring in my own food or drive the hour and a half up to Trader Joe’s in Pittsburgh.

Having said all this — there was great, fab-ola meals at Vaca Central. Every last Jones is a tremendous, thoughtful cook!


  1. Looked like you had a great time, Donna (grocery shopping aside) – I saw the nice photos on FB. We were just in Italy (Veneto & Tuscany) and I did notice all the exotic cuts of meat there – they eat a lot of tripe apparently. Having said that, it's probably better that they use more of the animal and not just a small part of it (once it's post-abattoir). They also have a big selection of soy products (and gluten-free), as well as organic, in the regular supermarket. Probably more soy milk on the shelves than I see here in Germany. I guess I'm not the only Italian with a lactose intolerance :) And for Maya who's vegetarian, there are mountains of gorgeous vegetables at such reasonable prices it's stunning. As long as you don't get tired of eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and tomatoes (and marvelous zucchini flowers). Okay, my defense of Italy rests :D and I will move on to comment on your post: What the what??? I don't think I've ever seen such a large tub of cheese balls! And why would anyone want their egg whites neon purple? There must be rampant health problems there. Even Jacksonville, Florida has a Whole Foods (one). Sounds like they need some coaching from Michelle Obama (though I imagine she's not overly-popular in those parts). I've never been there, but it's supposed to be beautiful country. Anyway, glad you had a great time – you look radiant in the pictures btw! :)

    1. Ah, who could ever get tired of eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and tomatoes! Throw broccoli in there and I'm ALL set.

      A vaca in Venice sounds fabulous though I imagine, this time of year, it's jam packed. Where did you stay? Where were you in Tuscany?

      I can only imagine the health issues in W.V. The landscape is wildly gorgeous though.

      And thank you!