Exiting the vastness of my local Safeway or Save-Mart, I'm always reminded of Mayo's Market, the corner grocery store in my childhood neighborhood. It wasn't much bigger than a two car garage, and yet provided a sufficient variety of goods. There was a meat and deli case, a dairy case, frozen foods, canned goods, baked goods, confections, fresh produce, soft drinks, and all manner of snack foods. Mr. Mayo even managed to stock such sundries as an assortment of school supplies, various tobacco products, playing cards, inexpensive toys such as balsa wood airplanes, and a rack of paperback books.
About the only thing the store lacked was wine, liquor and beer, for which he had been unable to procure a license. Yet there were more than a few people in the neighborhood who did all their shopping at Mayo's. And even though my parents went to a supermarket (much smaller than those that predominate today) once a week, we still had two or three meals a week prepared from goods bought from Mr. Mayo. These were often hamburger-related, as Mr. Mayo ground fresh beef every day, and the quality would shame the stuff sold by supermarkets now.
This afternoon as I contemplate the half dozen brands of canned tomatoes at Safeway, each brand sporting several types, and many types available in two or three styles, I was struck by the memory of Mayo's entire canned goods section having been no larger than the canned tomato section of Safeway. I think perhaps if we had a branch of Trader Joe's here I'd end up doing all my grocery shopping there. Even though it would be many times larger than Mayo's Market, at least it would be small enough that I'd probably be able to get through most of it before my brain went numb.
Now, having returned home late, I must go prepare my quick dinner, the main course of which will be the canned tamales it took me almost five minutes to find amid the miles of shelves. There is cheese to put on them, and tortilla chips to put under them and get chewy from the sauce, and there will be a salad to accompany them. But I find that I've forgotten to get sour cream. Ah, the curse of abundance.