Friends and relatives who live outside of New York usually get that I can live in an apartment without an attic or a basement to store extra stuff. They get that I don’t own a car. They understand that my kids would take the subway to school. The one thing the puzzles them is how I actually get enough food to feed a family home  from the supermarket.

When I was single and buying groceries just for me I used to just carry my groceries home. A little while after we got married, I bought something that made me feel very grown up. It was this:
shopping cart

A folding shopping cart. I had associated a shopping cart with very old women. But there I was, less than 30, pushing my cart from store to store.

My kids loved riding in the shopping cart. The only problem was, that if they would lean back if I wasn’t holding the handle, the cart would fall backwards and the kids sometimes landed on their heads. Despite this disadvantage, the kids loved the cart.

By the time they out grew riding in the cart, their appetites grew as well. Getting enough food home using just the cart was a struggle. New York in many ways is an old fashioned city. You can do your grocery shopping, pay a small fee and then a nice guy will wheel all of your groceries to your apartment,  and will even bring those groceries right into your kitchen. Yes, you pay the nice man a tip.
Some grocery stores even were comfortable taking phone orders from customers. When I was pregnant with my youngest I was confined to bed for five months. A friend told me about a kosher supermarket in Brooklyn that delivered to my neighborhood. You could call on Tuesdays and your delivery would show up at some point on Wednesday. ( The Wednesday before a holiday that might mean midnight.)

One of my friends called them them,  “ The Oh Shit! Supermarket “. They would sometimes misunderstand  your order. Unlike my friend, I found these misunderstandings part of the charm of the experience. Once, I ordered Tam Tam crackers. What arrived with my order was a box of Tampax. I put the box with my snacks. Eventually I did move the Tampax into the bathroom.
For several weeks running I ordered the same thing, Israeli salad. Each week I got something entirely different. One week it was a containter of chopped cucumbers and tomato. The next week it was a plastic bag of shredded cabbage. The third week it was an assortment of pickled vegetables. I found that element of surprise amusing. I don’t think my friend did.

Sometimes I used to order items off of their list just to find out what they were. What would you think that  “Farmer Midget Triplets" are ???  I thought that they might be three small packaged men in overalls and straw hats. I was slightly disappointed to discover that  what what arrived in my house was a three pack of farmer cheese. Nice, but no overalls.

I loved that when I called on one Tuesday, the person who answered the phone informed me that since it was Purim, all of the staff was too drunk to take my order, and could I please call on Wednesday instead.

Eventually I was seduced by the wonder of Fresh Direct, an internet grocery store. I could order any day of the week and my order would arrive the next day. I used them for several years.

But then suburbia hit New York. Costco opened across town two years ago. It’s a a long but easy bus ride away. The prices are amazing.  So how do I get all of my stuff home you ask? El Barrio car service has fleets of shiny sweet smelling cars waiting to take you home for a modest fee.

My invariably polite driver brings me home and helps our doorman load up the building’s cart which the doorman pushed up over the curb and into the building and maneuvers the cart into the elevator. I bring the cart to my door, unload it and then push the unmanned cart back into the elevator. The doorman then puts the cart away. All in all a nice system of food delivery.


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