Searching Trader's shelves

By BRIAN DUFF  |  December 1, 2010

None of this wine was much worse than what you might get from Hannaford for twice the price. The snacks were good for getting a bit of grease in the stomach between sips. Potato pancakes had street-vendor-latke simplicity with no discernable herbs. Lemongrass rolls had distinct and pleasant gingery flavor, and pastries topped with ham and a creamy bland cheese were not bad when piping hot. Mini chicken tacos were stiff and unacceptably tasteless.

In a recent essay Ian Svenonius suggests we learn from "the strange uniformity of every epoch's beverage cult." Our chosen beverage, he suggests, is "the symbolic booty from recent conquests. A culture's adopted beverage represents the blood of their vanquished foe." Our own recent conquest is ourselves: our traditional sense of control over the directions of our lives and the future of our nation. Cheap wine, produced in huge metal vats and chemically manipulated, rejects centuries of tradition in craftsmanship, expertise, and terroir. There is no telling what these clever entrepreneurs will come up with next to make cheap wine reasonably drinkable, and thus our disposable, unpredictable lives relatively bearable.

Brian Duff can be reached

TRADER JOE'S | 87 Marginal Way, Portland | 207.699.3799

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