Leaving our lovely Apt apartment, we had more than a few hours to kill before our house to the north would be ready for the week. Alex loves to go to all the local markets, big and small, and cook with local ingredients when she travels, so she had mapped out one of the larger grocery stores about an hour away. Little did she know there was a large Le Clerc just on the other side of Apt. Back in the early ‘90’s, when I lived in France, these large stores were something new and unique, but the American style big-box was now everywhere.
Tired from our open-market day in Apt and the long drive, we finally pulled into the large Auchan grocery store we were looking for. We grabbed a cart outside by putting a Euro in a coin slot and headed in. This place was like a Costco with smaller portions, but an even more diverse selection. There were meats and cheeses and veggies from all over Europe and beyond, and if you needed a plunger or a shower curtain or anything really, they probably had it.
Unfortunately, I tend to get dizzy from all the choices. Alex, on the other hand, relishes this kind of thing. She can walk slowly down every single aisle and around every end-cap, taking everything in, calculating savings and comparison-shopping the whole time—even in different currencies and languages!
I tried to be patient, I really did, but with every pound of goods we took on, our cart seemed to scoot more and more sideways. I was doing the crabwalk, wrestling with this cart and trying to avoid other shoppers when I almost crashed into an éclair sample station. Yes I said éclair sample station! They had three different kinds: the usual; caramel; and pistachio, made right there at the store. After three flavors sampled, I settled on one pistachio to go. “C’est tout?” said the sample-lady grumpily. I guess she thought I’d buy a dozen, or at least a couple of each since I’d tried them all. “I don’t have room in my cart” I said back in French, only half-joking.
I cursed the cart all the way to the car and almost forgot to get back my one Euro upon its return. I got into the car and immediately took a bite of that éclair. Sugar rushed to my brain making me less dizzy by the second. As we pulled out of the parking space I looked around and noticed that I wasn’t the only one to have trouble straightening their cart. It was like seeing a bunch of crabs scooting sideways along the beach. I looked at one cart more closely and noticed all four of the cart’s wheels were on a swivel, unlike ours that only swivel in the back. The French can design all the desserts they want, but I’ll take good old American design for things that move.