Monday, April 23, 2012

Jimmy's Food Store

I am only a little disappointed to know that the Italian grocer/deli on Fitzhugh does not actually go by the name "Jimmy's Meat Store." Dustin has been suggesting we go there, to Jimmy's Meat Store, for ages and I've always been rather taken with its focus and frankness. We've had good intentions, indeed it featured prominently on the itinerary when my dad was coming to visit, but somehow we never found the time to go cold cuts sight seeing until last weekend. It turns out, of course, that Jimmy's is not just a Meat store but a Food store, and all this time we were waiting for some sort of prosciutto event or salami spectacular to occasion a trip, we could have made any number of other excuses. Indeed, Jimmy has anticipated not only our meat needs, but our desire for fresh pasta and pickled vegetables and imported candies, as well.

Jimmy's could sell anything and it would probably be worth it just to hang around and listen to the regulars discuss their sandwich orders, whether to sit inside or outside, how the weather has been so unseasonal lately. There's a way people can talk, especially when shopping, that takes the role of a critic while assuming a sympathetic audience, because we all can agree it's still a little too early for tomatoes. Indeed, it is tempting to become a regular myself, to be party to that same easy familiarity, and so far I haven't even found the nerve to order something from the counter. A friend once explained to me that New York City isn't rude, it's just a place that has no tolerance for inefficiencies; and there is nothing more inefficient than not knowing your order when your spot in line comes up. Jimmy's strikes me as the kind of place that doesn't have time for the amateur hour, even on a lazy Saturday afternoon where nothing seems to be happening with any great speed.

Which is fine. I'm not feeling up to the adventure of selecting an unfamiliar cut of meat, and there are aisles of Italian and Texan products to keep me amused. In honor of Easter, Dustin and I take a package of bunny shaped pasta and the big tub of "homemade marinara." Out of sheer curiosity, I buy "La dolce Fattoria fondente." La dolce is shaped like a small football, or rather, a small football wrapped in a sheet of blue mylar printed with cartoon farm animals. A cardboard label showing a cartoon farm with the smiling disembodied heads of a cow, pig, sheep, and bunny cinches collars the mylar at the top so it fans out like a floral arrangement in a football-shaped vase. La dolce does not rattle when I shake it, but then, not knowing what it is, I don't shake it too hard. I have my choice of farm animals with a pink background or farm animals with a blue background, and having little else to go on, I pick a blue one because someone has just handed a blue one to a little boy being held by a tall man talking to someone else. Clearly, the blue ones are worth having. After dinner, we understand why.

That La dolce is in fact a big chocolate Easter egg does not come as a big surprise, but the fact that the chocolate is dark and delicious does. It is good chocolate in its own right, but it is shockingly good for chocolate that both comes in a novelty shape and is accompanied by a toy. The toy is a surprise of its own: first that there is one, and then that somebody somewhere decided that a toy in the shape of an insect belonged anywhere near a food product. I like to think that it is traditional, that somewhere there is an Easter Bug. Technically, it is probably an Easter Arachnic--the monochrome mint green color doesn't suggest a special commitment to accurate representation, but there are eight segmented legs extending from its notably egg-shaped body and the chelicera are convincing. Why this bit of molded plastic is hinged so it can make a clicking noise is beyond me, but maybe it will make sense next year, when I buy another one.

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