Lissa and I finally made the pilgrimage this afternoon to the new Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe.
When people ask where we’re from, we typically say “L.A.,” but we actually lived for many years in South Pasadena, a little bit of old-school suburbia between Los Angeles and Pasadena. It’s the home of Joe Coulombe’s first Trader Joe’s, and we did a lot of shopping at the second, a crowded little cheese and wine emporium on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. The stuff was cheap and good and, most important, a bit odd. Workers wore Hawaiian shirts, stuff was stacked around in wooden crates like it had just come off the boat. And did I mention that it was cheap?
The first TJ’s in New Mexico has been greeted with almost religious fervor, but to be honest I was a bit nervous about making the pilgrimage. In this age of Wild Whole Oat Foods markets, with their colored concrete floors and beautiful produce and oh-so-hiply-pierced staff, I was worried about what TJ’s might have become. But I was pleasantly surprised. There was Joe’s low-sodium V8 knockoff vegetable juice – cheaper than V8 at the regular supermarket. Intriguing frozen vegetables. Frozen salmon patties. Stuff stacked around like it had just come off the boat. And did I mention that it was cheap?