At one time, food was personal and quality didn’t have to be demanded because it was expected.
When my father and his siblings were growing up, my grandmother would go to the butcher for her meats, the pork store for her sausages, the fish store for her fish, and the bakery for her bread. She knew each owner by name and her shopping routine was more of a social activity than a chore. These specialty stores were a way of life in Brooklyn, NY and they made up the identity of each neighborhood.
Now, even in Brooklyn, many of these specialty stores have faded into a competitive jungle of supermarkets and internet delivery services. A Trader Joe’s took over the old bank where my grandmother used to work and then one-by-one we watched my grandmother’s favorite stores disappear. The store fronts were replaced by trendy shops, and the friendly owners who took great pride in their craft were replaced with teenage workers, who don’t know a loaf of bread from a loaf of meat. The unique flavors that had once identifed each neighborhood were suddenly lost in a sea of mass production (RIP prosciutto balls from Joe’s Pork Superette).
Some of these old world butchers and specialty shops still exist and are kept alive by the loyalty of their aging customers. It is the younger generation that needs to help sustain their future and preserve the history of their craft. Since very few of us are going to butcher a cow just to make a hamburger, don’t you want to know who is doing this for you? Or, where the meat came from and what the animal is fed? I know that I sure do!
I will be visiting and posting about shops in the NYC area. Let me know if there are any that are a MUST visit and I will definitely check it out!