The Best Groceries

Fine grocery stores in Illinois are fairly rare. There is the Springfield-Montvale Schnuck's and Chicago's Treasure Island, but the pickings get pretty slim after that. I have heard there are some new 'whole foods stores' in the Chicago area, but so far I have only read about them in the Tribune.

When traveling, I make it a point to go to super markets along the way, even if only to pick up some bottled water and some good bread for breakfast. I have shopped on both coasts, including Miami and the Palm Beaches, Boston, New York, and the southwest, but the two finest stores I have ever seen were both in Canada.

The first was over ten years ago near Laval, between Montreal and the Laurentiens. I stopped there to collect a picnic lunch, and was overwhelmed by the number of choices in patés, smoked fish, good bread, a nice wine selection, and the like.

In late April of 2000 I was on my way from Boston to Holland, Michigan and stopped for the night in the Westgate section of Hamilton, Ontario. The unheralded grocery in the strip mall across from the Comfort Inn was, quite simply, the finest I have ever seen. The market complex of Firenze or the market place in München might rival it in specific items, say, Parma hams and cheeses, but the abundance of choices in this Ontario market boggled the mind.

Shoppers included many from the Indian subcontinent, Orientals, eastern Europeans, West Indians, and the like. Other 'new Canadians' were not identifiable from their appearances, but the only hypothesis I can advance to explain why Hamilton, Ontario, Canada should be so blessed is the confluence of ethnics who have yet to be melted down into a Midwestern glue pot.