1. On my visit to San Francisco this spring, Brad brought home several tubs of Greek-style yogurt from Trader Joe's. The fig yogurt blew me away, in part because the stuff is creamy and rich and amazingly thick, and in part because the notion of fig yogurt had somehow never occurred to me. Many a foodie blogger celebrates this stuff.
2. The same goes for the Whole Foods Adriatic Fig Spread.
3. Since mid-June, I've intended to write a post entitled "The Birdcage vs. Whole Foods." That extended moment of intention has past, so here's the gist of it. In a 2-day period, I watched The Birdcage and shopped at Whole Foods. I've long refused to see the film because I'm not a fan of late Robin Williams (he lost me with Mrs. Doubtfire), I'm unclear on why the original needed to be re-made, and I expected the film to be thoroughly irritating and lacking subtlety of any kind. We don't shop at Whole Foods because of their anti-labor practices, because they don't support local farmers, and because the place is nauseatingly West-Side while we are staunch Madison East Siders. I had high hopes, though. I made a list of specialties and delicacies that I can't get at the Willy St. Co-op: canneloni shells, a rough-to-medium-grind corn meal, superfine sugar, continental cheeses, cacao nibs, elderflower presse, etc., etc.
4. With the exceptions of Val (Dan Futterman) and Barbara (Calista Flockhart) who are utterly unsympathetic, thoughtless, and emotionally unattractive, The Birdcage delighted me. Nathan Lane and Robin Williams were terrific; the latter's portrayal was thoughtful, constrained, apposite. The film's conclusion is at once politically pungent (redefining family loyalty) and fabulously a-political (let's use our superpowers to save the conservatives who use their own powers to destroy us). This somehow cinches the crux of my gay. Whole Foods, on the other hand, had none of things I wanted and expected. The staff (unlike the workers in the San Francisco store) exuded sourness, or a mechanical quality, or the inappropriate jocularity of early teen boys, or some combination of all of these. I left disgusted with the place. I had long perceived it as an off-limits treasure trove, but in fact it is simply a profit mill dissolving organic philosophy into banal (not to mention destructive) corporate dullness.
5. The sole exception was the Adriatic Fig Spread, which I picked up on a lark.
6. Haunted by my memories of the Greek-style yogurt, I added the spread to whole-milk Brown Cow and melted in ecstasy. Would I return to Whole Foods, just for this fig spread? What kind of slippery slope might that be!?
7. With the aid of Martha Stewart online, I discovered that I could make my own damn fig spread, do all my shopping at the Willy St. Co-op and avoid disaster. Neglecting Martha's specifications, I used Black Mission figs and have not been wholly satisfied with the results, which aren't sweet enough. I serve the spread surrounded by a luminescent ring of honey and remain optimistic that in time I can develop Martha's recipe into something that will take me back to that cup of fig yogurt Brad shared with me last spring.
8. That, and Trader Joe's will be coming to Madison a-for too long.