by C. Jeanette Tyson
was crawling south on Lamar at noon. There, just short of the intersection with Sixth, workers were taking the
letters off a building. The ďwĒ was gone, also the ďhĒ. The parking lot was nearly empty. I thought this is the way towns shut down, one letter at a time.
the traffic pushed me forward and there it was.
think I wasnít worried that I was all a-tingle over a grocery store. Had my
life really come to this, and so
soon? But this, dearie, is no grocery store. This is the fabulous new Whole Foods.
new store had been under construction for the entire two years Iíve been
here. Iíd heard about the parking garage with 900 spaces. Iíd thought briefly of
nice, wide aisles and fresh
paint and bright lighting. Occasionally I might ask someone when it was
supposed to be finished but it all seemed so far away.
Then last month I
found myself at the old store chatting with the deli guy and the check-out
gal about the upcoming move. "So,
are you ready?" Iíd say. "Itís
so exciting." They gave me the
same look extremely pregnant women give you. The ďeasy for you to sayĒ
look, the one thatís very clear on who has to do all the work.
after all that build-up, the day
came and I got my back up. I
declared my intention not to venture near that circus for weeks. I vowed to
go to Central Market, which I have finally learned to navigate. And which,
seems to be full of gorgeous men. I resented the idea of a parking garage.
I needed milk.
I established some rules: I had to park in the surface lot. I had to be out
in twenty minutes.
Crawling six blocks
down Lamar took almost fifteen minutes though I canít honestly say that
was any slower than usual. Once I got there, I was waved cheerfully into the parking lot by the attendant. I
slipped into a spot right there in front and dashed inside, only to be stopped in my tracks.
is the word that comes to mind. There
are mounds and mounds of vegetables, buckets and buckets of flowers, stacks of olive oil in gallon cans, pyramids of vinegar, troughs
of beans and nuts, tables overflowing with every edible
thing you have ever thought of and quite a few you havenít.
There was the sushi bar, the
wine cellar and the huge beer closet, the freshly ground peanut butteróooh, how about one with
chocolate! There was the bakery,
juice bar, trattoria. Ok, where
the hell was the milk? I got
The self check-out was quick and easy. On opening
day I was in and out of the store in about nine minutes.
are seven restaurants in this grocery store. At Fifth Street Seafood, men stand around in suits and loosened ties, drinking beer, forgetting
the day, just like Grand Central Station.
you donít want to eat out, itís
now incredibly easy to stay in. Throughout the store, there are entire meals just waiting for you to take home and claim as
your own . The veggies are already cut and look, thereís tofu or chicken, too, for
stir-fry. Here are tortillas so
you wonít forget them on Aisle 18. The selection goes far beyond carrots
and celery sticks: thereís butternut squash,
haricot verte, mange tout, all
cleaned and chopped. Thereís
asparagus tucked into beef, bacon
curled around scallops.
irony of this grocery store is that you never have to cook again. But what
if you want to, love to cook? Then heaven awaits you, my
friend. If your recipe calls for opo squash or galango root, this is the place. Come
here for a hedgehog, bluefoot or
hon shimeji mushroom instead of a plain portobello. Get your banana leaves right here.
course the store continues its support of local growers. Now you not only
know where your spinach comes from, you can see a picture of the family who
grew it -- their quotes pepper the produce section, reminding us that this slick, grown-up Whole Foods definitely
remembers its roots.
If youíd like a
little mayo on your sandwich, there are 25 kinds. Ketchup? 13. Mustard? Oh please, thereís
more mustard than all the Smart
Dogs all the kids in this town will ever eat.
Speaking of kids, if you lose yours, I can
tell you where to find them: the Chocolate Bar. Rumor has it theyíll dip anything in chocolate. I might be there myself.
Iíve got your fresh blueberries! Half a pound a ground, coming up! Have you been to Pike Place Market in Seattle and heard the fishermen yell? Have you gone to
London not to see the Queen but to stroll through Harrodís and gasp at the
wonders scavenged from the colonies?
A friend thinks that from here on, in Austin, we will refer to Before Whole Foods time and After Whole Foods time.
The place is huge and it will take a while to learn
to navigate. I didnít even get
to the playscape or the masseuse. But
I need bread now so I guess Iíll have to go back.
Who knows. There
might even be a person or two in
Austin who thinks itís about time.
Tyson thinks she has the
best job in the world, being a mom to Maddy and Jackson. But having such a grown-up place to go for peanut butter makes it even