Way back when I was regularly trying out recipes from Deceptively Delicious (which isn't to say that I don't still use the cookbook, just not as diligently as I did when I was reviewing it), I noticed a recipe for a chicken noodle soup that used alphabet pasta.
"Well," I thought, "if those aren't the cutest little pasta noodles ever."
I wanted to make it. Right then.
So, I went to the grocery store to find alphabet noodles. They didn't have them. I went to another grocery store. And another. Couldn't find them. I gave up. Turns out, I'm not that committed when it comes to searching for food.
One day, I was talking about the cookbook with a group of friends, and I casually mentioned my futile alphabet noodle search.
"Trader Joe's," someone said. They all nodded.
"Alphabet noodles are at Trader Joe's? I guess I wouldn't know since I haven't ever been there." And then all my friends wrinkled up their noses at me and walked away. No, not really. But I did hear someone gasp, shake her head, and say a little breathlessly, "Trader Joe's is amazing."
I've eaten food from Trader Joe's. I've driven past one more than a thousand times on my drive up to Washington. There it is, right off I-5, in Lake Oswego. My most favorite memory of Trader Joe's is receiving a bag of their chocolate truffles when I was in the hospital after Jules was born. My friend Eiko was like an angel straight from heaven for bringing me chocolate within two hours of giving birth.
However, I've never been in a TJ's store. There isn't one in town, and why on earth would I go grocery shopping in Lake Oswego? Plus, I surmised, it's probably really expensive.
Then a couple weeks ago, I heard that TJ's isn't that expensive. What's this? Not expensive? And they have a great selection of organic food? Well, this I would need to explore on my own.
Still, I wasn't going to drive 45 minutes just to go grocery shopping. So I waited for the perfect timing, and that happened on Saturday. Sydney had stayed overnight with Jason's parents on Friday, and so I suggested that we all meet at Trader Joe's to do the switcheroo. This would be my chance to finally get my alphabet noodle soup.
I have to say, I wasn't disappointed in my first TJ's experience. I got the noodles (under $1.50! cool!), plus a few bags of salad, some scones, a tub of Cat Cookies for Real People, and lavender dryer bags. All organic. Total: under $20. How about that. The scones were delicious, and the alphabet pasta noodles a big hit that night for dinner (although I mistakenly misread the recipe and instead of putting in 1/2 cup of noodles I put in 2 1/2 cups of noodles...now we have two big bowls of cooked noodles in our fridge).
I hear that there are some rumblings to petition Trader Joe's to put a store in town (it worked for Corvallis), but I'm sure that by the time that happens we won't be living here anymore. Good news though: there's a TJ's in Vancouver, and downtown Portland, and, of course, the one in Lake Oswego, which will always have a place in my heart for being the first one that I visited. I'm sure I won't really be visiting the store that often, but now I know where to go for alphabet pasta noodles. And as another famous Joe once said, Knowing is half the battle.
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