Chocolate lovers love bargains! Wandering the dazzling, decadent aisles of Whole Foods yesterday, I discovered that the baking aisle contains a hunky 9.7 oz. slab of Scharffen Berger Semisweet for $7.99. Whereas, in the candy bar aisle on the other side of the store, 1 oz. bars of Scharffen Berger are almost $2, and 3 oz. bars go for $3-something. Do the math.

It's kind of overwhelming being back here in the Land of Organic Plenty after 24 days in the South. The Whole Foods in New Orleans was mini & cute; its scale reminded me (ironically) of Manhattan stores, with narrow aisles, vertical space carefully exploited, & many items only available in the smallest sizes. In Birmingham, we wrote up a full grocery list for our trip to Golden Temple, only to find that it was about the size of a corner store, with a produce section to match: maybe a dozen kinds of organic veggies, only a few specimens of each, pre-bagged & stored inside glass-doored refrigerators, along with a few baskets of apples, pears & bananas. To their credit, most of it looked in pretty good shape, & some of it was not too expensive. We bought a head of lettuce, some bananas & apples, & sheepishly asked for directions to the nearest supermarket. Gotta hand it to those folks for keeping the faith. In Tupelo, while checking out we asked the motel clerk for a brunch recommendation. She said, Shoney's across the street. (Shoney's is ubiquitous in the South, as is Waffle House, Applebee's, McDonald's, Burger King, &c. &c.) I clarified my request: is there anything local? She shook her head & said, all the mom & pop places are gone. We got in the car & fled, nibbling rye crackers & dried apricots from our snack stash.


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