Finding Tower Market and its butcher shop was another step on my journey toward being a real San Franciscan. As a non-red-meat eater I knew that I missed much of the point of going to Tower. But, it was fun to talk about my discovery with older relatives who went to Tower when they were young. It was nice to know that another San Francisco tradition was still going strong.
The butcher shop was well provisioned in fresh fish and fowl of various pedigrees. I never had any food cut to my specifications before Tower, and asking for the chicken to be skinned, halved, and de-boned just for me was a satisfying throwback to the idyllic pre-supermarket days of my cultural memory.
A couple years ago the owners of the grocery part of the store retired, and sold the shop to the butcher. The continuity of wonderfulness was assured!
There were smaller brands on the shelves, and some of these little-known spices and sauces were clearly better than the General
Motors Foods homogenized offerings in the mega-stores. The aisles were impossibly crowded, but that was okay because everything from organic rye flower to Nyquil was there. Miraculously the grocery and produce prices were lower than at Safeway.
Unfortunately, the owners sold out to Mollie Stone earlier this year.
More well-known brands are showing up. Cellophaned “fresh packs” of combination greens are stuffed into the produce section. Basic ingredients are fighting for shelf space, and their prices are wildly elevated: yellow wax beans at $7.00 a pound last week. Onions at $.99, and the Chinese long beans have disappeared. The organic chicken is still available, but it’s already cut up into skinless, boneless breasts when you approach the butcher counter.
The ultimate Ozdachs verdict is still out, I guess. I know some of my unhappiness is over the fact that something changed. Change is uncomfortable, if not evil!
But, I decided to go to Safeway yesterday on the way home from the gym. The draw of Tower just wasn’t strong enough for me to travel across town. Besides, I wanted long beans for the curry.