A culinary adventure—at Walmart
Beguiled by the promise of a kid-free trip to Walmart, I found myself shopping the world’s biggest retailer at 10 p.m. on a recent Saturday night. I generally dislike WM. Too big. Too much the bully with suppliers. Too much evidence that the retailer’s arrival in a small town spells disaster for downtown. But there I was, strolling the aisles of Hiawatha’s Walmart Supercenter, discovering a world of international flavors once confined to high-end specialty stores while the kiddos slept at Grandma’s. This one stocked everything from Sriracha hot sauce and soba noodles to fresh mangos and leeks. So what, you might ask. Such things have been urban supermarket staples for years. But they’re hard to find in less populated areas of the state. Don’t get me wrong—rural grocery stores do a tremendous job of stocking all kinds of yummy stuff, and they provide essential community infrastructure. For more on the vital role rural groceries play, and how hard it is for owners to keep ’em open, just check out Kansas State University’s Rural Grocery Initiative. Back to WM, though. From a foodie standpoint, it’s frustrating to read a recipe listing ingredients you know you’ll have to drive an hour or more (sometimes much more) to find. That’s probably why I grew up eating lasagne made with cottage cheese instead of ricotta (oh, if only Mom had known how easy ricotta is to make!). Whatever other evils Walmart might represent, it is at least opening the doors of culinary adventure to small-town cooks. Who knew?