Adventures in H-Town

Love and Groceries: Committing to a supermarket is a newcomer's No. 1 dilemma

Love and Groceries: Committing to a supermarket is a newcomer's No. 1 dilemma

Editor's Note: Cathy Parsons recently moved from Music City (Nashville) to the Bayou City (Houston). In a periodic column, she will write about her new life here.

During a conversation with CultureMap president Nicholas Phillips recently, the subject of the need to learn Spanish came up. I have heard others mention this quite a bit since I moved to Houston several months ago. Lots of people express the desire to learn it, but there seems to be a lack of consensus for the best, i.e. quickest, cheapest, and most painless way possible to become fluent.

My jewelry designer friend, Margaret Ellis, swears by Rosetta Stone. And seriously, who hasn’t heard that option plugged? But the sticker shock has always held me back. And my lazy streak makes me wonder if I would commit to the program all the way.

One of my new friends moved to Houston from Mexico City a few years ago, and I would love to communicate with her better. Let’s just say her English is light years better than my Spanish (guess who took French in high school?…), but so far, learning a new language is all just a part of my Master Plan I came up with when I moved to Houston.

Once I started thinking about my lack of progress with the Spanish situation, I remembered the "To-do" list when I arrived. In no particular order, it looked something like this…

  1. Learn my way around Houston sans GPS ASAP (doing pretty well on this one)
  2. Enjoy the fabulous restaurants (more than I could have imagined)
  3. Work out to get in the best shape possible and take yoga seriously (not hardly due to item # 2 in large part)
  4. Start an eBay clothing business (hahaha!!)
  5. Thoroughly enjoy the amazing galleries, museums, and parks (check!)
  6. Find a fabulous and creative- new and exciting career (on my way…)
  7. Completely open up to all new people and experiences (absolutely the best!)
  8. Learn Spanish  (zero progress)

And this is only a partial list… but you get the idea. Since I am a listmaniac, I also love that when I write this column about being new to the city, I usually receive a flurry of emails from people sharing their experiences as well as offering me their favorite restaurants, shops, etc. (This has been a fabulous help and I thank you all!)

As I contemplated some of my other newcomer experiences, I recalled one of the first necessary decisions that I encountered committing to a grocery store. Bear with me on this. Anyone new to a city understands the need to lock down certain choices…. New place to live and worship, new bank, new doctors, new schools if you have kids, new stores, salons, and restaurants - truly a long, long list.

Of all things, the grocery store selection has been an unexpected source of amusement for my boyfriend, RT, and me. He is firmly committed to Randall’s, and while it is perfectly fine, I was not so quick to jump on that bandwagon.

I like to check out all the options and then find the perfect choice that exactly fits my needs. (Just like when I engage in my favorite hobby - shoe shopping.) As someone who loves to cook and entertain, I am still auditioning for “my” grocery store.

So far, in addition to Randall’s, I have considered H-E-B, and Kroger Signature. But the one I was most excited to explore for a totally different experience was Fiesta. I had envisioned a grocery shopping experience with, well, I guess more color, more pizazz, if you will, with very enthusiastic patrons and employees, tons of Mexican products and exotic specialties.

I went today and felt it was just more or less like the others, with the exception of their jewelry counter and expanded local products. Perfectly fine, what with its organic selection, fresh meats, nice bakery, and all, but kinda mainstream. No biggie though… 

Truly, ANY grocery store in Texas beats the pants out of the offerings in Nashville due to the fact that wine is available!  And on Sundays, too! 

Back in Nashville, you really had to get your Sunday plans locked down early if you planned on any kind of entertaining that might include a splash of crisp pinot grigio or a lovely cab.  Wine is only sold in liquor stores (illegal to be open on Sundays), which is pretty silly in my opinion.  Attemps continue to be made to change that, but it may never happen.

The grocery option that got shot down as “our” store was the Whole Foods Market on Kirby. Since we are looking at real estate in that area, I was all set to lock down my old favorite as the “one.” An ill-timed trip there on a Saturday with RT sort of put that option to rest, at least for my goal to bring him on board.

Having to cruise around like it was two days before Christmas at The Galleria to get a parking spot didn’t exactly endear him to this experience. But once we made it into the store, (and in full disclosure, this was on a Saturday), the large amount of tastings underway and the enormous number of people maneuvering carts throughout the somewhat narrow aisles, put RT in the “I do not like this” mode.

I love Whole Foods as it was the closest store to my Nashville home and just the smell when I walk in would always put me in a good mood. Not only do they have one of my very favorite cheese (Robusto Gouda), but Evan Healy skin care products, and too many other wonderful products for me to list. Is it possible to have his and hers grocery stores? I am not sure, but I will keep this in mind.

I think next time, RT and I will hit it up on a shall we say – Monday or Tuesday night? So many stores…so little time to try them all. 

Now, back to that list...

News_wine_grocery store
Truly, ANY grocery store in Texas beats the pants out of the offerings in Nashville due to the fact that WINE is available! And on Sundays, too!
Places-Shopping-Whole Foods-exterior-1
I love Whole Foods as it was the closest store to my Nashville home and just the smell when I walk in would always put me in a good mood. Photo by Chris Conyers
News_Rosetta_Stone
My jewelry designer friend, Margaret Ellis, swears by Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish.