Amongst many of his books on food, cooking, dining, restaurants, and the life of a chef, is Grocery by Michale Ruhlman. This is a must-read no matter who you are. Regardless if you are in child in grammar school, a college grad, a chef or even a simple home cook who is cooking for one or for a family, this is a book you must pick up and read. It is an education I have yet to find anywhere else.
Recently Michael Ruhlman was on the Dr. Oz show and its astounding to learn that supermarkets back in the 1970s had about 4,000 different products. That might seem a bit much to comprehend, but when you think of the fact that there are over 70,000 products today, its really mind baffling. For this reason it is best you know the “lay of the land” when it comes to supermarkets.
When I was a kid, when I walked into my local Shop Rite the first thing you saw was the magazine section. Now they have them at the check out aisles, perhaps because they are hoping that while you are waiting on line to pay for your food you have something to do. By the time its your turn to pay for your items, you want to finish the article and wind up buying it. One thing that has not changed is the fact that the frozen foods are in the back of the supermarket and the last aisle, simply because you want to buy your frozen foods last so they are still frozen by the time you pay for them and get them home.
I remember my first trip Austin, Texas to visit my then girlfriend and her family. I promised to cook them an authentic Italian meal and proved to them that places like The Olive Garden sucked and was not real Italian food. My biggest challenge was finding the Italian ingredients like fresh basil, oregano, San Marzano tomatoes, pecorino romano cheese, etc. Instead of the traditional chopped meat recipe of beef, pork and veal, I was only able to find ground beef. Understandable since this was Texas and cattle country. I managed to do quite well, they loved it. Today you have in nearly every supermarket and “ethnic” aisle. And while I never thought of Italian as ethnic in North Jersey (they have an entire aisle to themselves in every supermarket), today you have an “ethnic section” which includes Asian, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, and probably many others depending on your geographic location.
Amazon has become a real game changer recently. Before they showed up it was already very competitive with retail department stores like Walmart and Target bringing food into their stores and cutting a deeper wound into major supermarket chains. According to Ruhlman grocery stores “operate on a razor thin budget”, so when major chains like Costco and others enter the arena for your money, it is time for you to start paying attention.
You might not ever walk into another supermarket or grocery store again after having read this book. It is very easy to read and understand. There is really nothing complex about how the book is written or how supermarkets lay out their products. It is educational, informative and in an age where the price of food is astronomical, it is important to understand what is going on before you even enter a supermarket.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download a free electronic sample of the book before you commit to purchasing the whole book. I am sure you are going to want to, there is so much to learn here. If you like to hold real books in your hand, it is not a bad idea to just purchase a copy and keep it in the kitchen or on the shelf as reference. Here is the link to order online… http://amzn.to/2iblPM4