Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dispatches From Berkeley 2

The weather here is fabulous. Absolutely, fabulous. You can walk around comfortably in jeans and a t-shirt, with the sun shining and a cool breeze. There are no clouds in the sky, licorice grows up from the ground, and fairies float around handing out twenty dollar bills. Oh, sorry, drifting. Anyway, point being, Berkeley is perfect walking weather. So yesterday and today, I walked around the shopping streets near the campus.

Telegraph Street
is a few blocks north of Sister's apartment and leads directly to the campus, so the closer you get, the busier and more State-Street-esque it gets. I checked out Buffalo Exchange, the used closing shop, but found this one to be slightly disappointing. There were too many boy clothes, not enough girl stuff. Alas. Continuing on, I strolled through Moe's Books, a mix of new and used books. They had those really comfy library stools that roll around until you sit on them, so I camped on one of those and browsed the American history section. Despite endless options, I managed to withstand the temptation and left without adding to my collection of books. Bear Basics stocks UC Berkeley apparel and other funky t-shirts. I decided to wait before buying my souvenir t-shirt, but have no fear - I will be back.

Today, I decided to explore my organic roots and check out the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, a local grocery store that has a huge produce section, and lots of funky natural foods. It's only 5-6 blocks from the apartment, so it was a quick walk (and definitely close enough that I could buy ice cream and get it safely home before it melted). Within seconds of entering, I felt transported to a supermarket in a foreign country. I must have looked like a lunatic, slowly meandering around the store, stopping to read signs as if they were in a foreign language. I think I circled the two stands of artisan fresh breads at least five times, trying to find a basic loaf of french bread. But then it started to feel like an adventure; I put on my big girl shoes and attempted to find romaine lettuce for a caesar salad.

Besides the groceries, the store also features a gourmet kitchen/deli type area where you can get lunch; there's even a small eatery area! They offer an Asian station, soups, salads, pizza, sandwiches, taqueria, sushi, meats, cheeses, and an olive bar offering 25 different types of olives! (I know! I don't even like olives, yet this totally excited me!) I'm definitely testing this place out for lunch sometime next week.

With my romaine, salad dressing, french rolls, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I headed for the check out line, only to realize I was going to be outed as a non-organic-native: I had no cloth shopping bag to load my groceries into. Oh no. They're going to throw 25 different kinds of olives at me!

Luckily, the Berkeley Bowl provides for the less green shoppers, and sells cloth bags. Strolling home with my locally grown food in an environmentally friendly bag, I finally felt like a native. (Until I couldn't find the pedestrian crossing button on the stop light, and a kind hobo had to help me. Alas. One step at a time.)


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