Just before we launched this blog a few months ago, I got together for a couple of beers at Old Town with an old friend to discuss the very problem of food and eating in Ann Arbor that is being discussed (dissected?) at length over at AAIO. I was nervous about starting a blog on the food scene here because I’m so frequently disappointed when I eat out in this town, and I didn’t want to create a forum for bellyaching. (I know, I know.) John, with his usual brilliance, said, “Don’t focus on the restaurants, then. The best cooking in this town happens at home.” The blog has ended up doing a bit of both, but I’ve yet to really explore this thread–resources for the home cook in A2.
We talked that night about the staggering number of places to buy food–the variety of specialty food shops (not just Zingerman’s, thank heavens, but places like Tracklements and Morgan and York), ethnic grocers, wine shops, hippie markets, etc. It says much, I think, about the place of food in A2 that you can buy pastries and bread at the hardware store. And that there is variety even in the choice of big box-type supermarkets. At the risk of sounding fairly pollyannaish, I’ll suggest that people who work at many of these stores are super helpful and interested in food, and want to share that interest with other people. While there is in this town a certain monopolistic gourmet empire that has pretty thoroughly commodified this kind of community interest in food, there are, I think, many genuine opportunities to learn, ask questions, be curious, and become a better cook. If you ask, Eve Aranoff will send you a recipe for anything you’ve consumed at her restaurant. I was given a lesson on how to tie a roast when I stopped by the Jefferson Market to buy kitchen twine. The people at everyday wine and at Village Corner are generous with their wine knowledge. Mike Monahan’s staff will teach you how to shuck an oyster. With resources like these, the home cook in A2 is well taken care of.