Posted by: lisetta | July 11, 2010

Pittsburgh picnic

While I was frustrated that I was unable to find fresh pasta in suburban Pittsburgh yesterday, I was impressed with the size and variety of foods in the local grocery store: Giant Eagle’s Market District. Mind you, when I lived in Pittsburgh I despised Giant Eagle, not only because they carried no variety of interesting foods, but also because  they had a monopoly in the city proper, with incentive only to charge ridiculously high prices for inferior quality.  I remember wondering how it was that my suburban friends actually chose this store over the competitors, and once did a comparison run only to find that the quality was higher and the prices were lower in the suburban stores. While I lived only a few blocks away from one of their stores, I made it a point not to enter, and instead chose to support locally owned grocers and farmer’s markets. While they may have had no incentive to innovate back then, the city has since attracted Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, much to all my city friends’ relief. Nothing like a bit of competition to spur change. It’s a good thing.

This afternoon, I actually chose to stop there to pick up a picnic lunch for my longtime friends Kim and Nick, and Julia, James and Claire. I got a grilled vegetable salad with feta, a butter bean salad with onion and dill, a few vegetable pizzas, a square of cheesey polenta, a round of goat brie, a few bakery rolls, and a mini burnt almond torte (a Pittsburgh favorite). The prepared foods were quite tasty! While not as sophisticated as Wegmans, it’s certainly way more evolved than any of my memories. My friends commented, however, that I failed to take any pictures of the food, or talk very much about blogging about it. I guess in the end that this is the real test of how deeply I enjoyed it. Guess I’ve learned over the years to savor the company more than the food. 🙂

We sat up on a hill in Schenley Park, with the shadows of the city on the horizon. Bromley2 posted this picture of the space on an online forum for artists:

I’m heading back to Philadelphia tomorrow. Have really enjoyed this short visit to my hometown, which I only visit 2-3 times per year now. I still wonder whether I’ll turn out to be the homing pigeon that so many other expat Pittsburghers eventually become. The city’s lure is inexplicable.

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