It is time to reflect on Jonathan Franzen again. I have spoken of golf, reflected on Egypt, welcomed a nephew to our family, celebrated another's first birthday, and remembered a few old lyrics. But Franzen will always come back, to the surprise of the very few who appreciate him as I do, and to the consternation of others who cannot understand my obsession.
I also return to the theme of groceries and even more specifically to the one of organic shopping. I am a strong advocate for the consumption of organic foods. I was told in the USA, that growing organic could cost the same as conventional produce if the demand for it grew. Take a look at Trader Joe's, a grocery store that sells limited variety because it sells in bulk only. They have organic foods that are even cheaper than standard groceries.
I used to enjoy shopping at the Organic Stores in Satwa, Dubai. I thought the location was very appropriate because Satwa in itself is "an organic haven": walk into any Iranian and now Filipino fruit stall and you will find the best produce. Don't the consumers of Organic foods want the authentic experience? The price for certified organic produce has always been high in Dubai because most of these products are imported in small quantities from abroad. Perhaps the prices were even higher at this Satwa location because very few people shop there, adding to concerns about the turnover.
Instead of the Satwa outpost, I decided to go to the Organic Store at the Dubai Mall today, which has an entirely different feel. It is pretentious and the aisles are wider for the happy few. I went straight to the fishmonger with the intention to buy organic salmon. It was then that I remembered Franzen's words:
"Chip found WILD NORWEGIAN SALMON, LINE CAUGHT on sale at a reasonable price. He pointed at a midsize filet, and to the fishman's question, "what else?" He replied in a crisp tone, "that'll do it". The price on the beautiful paper-wrapped filet that he was handed was $78.40. [...]
Ha, ha! He said, palming the seventy-eight-dollar filet like a catcher's mitt.
He dropped to one knee and touched his bootlaces and took the salmon right up inside his pants and stood up again.[...]
Chip took two steps, and the salmon, which was quite heavy, escaped from his sweater and covered his groin.[....] The dangling filet felt like a cool, loaded diaper. [...] He strode purposefully toward the whatever. Toward the dairy wall.[...] The less unaffordable domestic creme fraiche was blocked by a man in a Yankees cap who was shouting into his cell phone while a child, apparently his, peeled back the foil tops of half liters of French yogurt."
This is but a preview for "Corrections". I, of course, wasn't in a crowded New York Midtown supermarket jammed with pyramids of foods from all over the world, but as I was holding that unaffordable salmon, I stood in the middle of the Dubai Mall and broke into solitary laughter....courtesy of Franzen.