November 5, 1999

Joining the Whole Foods Revolution

last weekend, Sabs and I went to Fresh Fields for the first time at the suggestion of our friends Chris and Skinny. We'd been complaining over our dim sum that we couldn't get good produce at any of the local supermarkets so they suggested we try it out.

I hadn't realized that there was a Fresh Fields so close to where we live -- it's right down Duke Street after it turns into Little River Turnpike and is only a 5-10 minute drive depending on the traffic. It's also right next to a Hollywood Video store, which is a boon, because our local small-time store closed up shop and the next nearest store is a Blockbuster.

The Hollywood Video has five-day rentals on everything too, which is great for us, because we tend to get too many movies on the weekend and then we wind up watching them during the week and turning them in late. Now we can grab three movies without blinking and watch them all without incurring $20 in late fees.

We also have started frequenting Trader Joe's, primarily to get juice that isn't made with tons and tons of high fructose corn syrup. All in all, we're making a huge switch from shopping at the most convenient stores because they're convenient, to going to places where we can get the things that we actually want/need to eat.

The juices at Trader Joe's are truly wonderful and they have some good frozen fish in the freezer cases. The only problem with a lot of their wares is that they're boxed, frozen or otherwise packaged, where what I really want is certified organic PRODUCE. Fresh Fields fills that niche neatly and the grocery bill isn't significantly higher than it was when we did the bulk of our shopping at the Giant.

I also just plain like the vibe at that store -- there are always free food samples being handed out, the staff are friendly and very helpful and they have a lot of cool stuff that is hard to find elsewhere. Like good bread.

One of the greatest struggles in my life as a U.S. Citizen, has been finding good bread to eat, On average, the kinds of bread that you can buy at the grocery store are all insipid, flavorless soft loaves that have more sugar per slice than a Coca-Cola. Not exactly a healthy food, even if you're buying whole wheat.

But Fresh Fields has a Real Bakery. A bakery in which whole loaves, are made with real flour and water and yeast, instead of things that I can't even pronounce. Bread that tastes like bread. Bread that you can eat all by itself and have a mouthful of wheaty flavor.

I bought a big-ass loaf of Pane Paesano to have my sandwiches on. It tastes almost exactly like the pain croustillant I used to eat in Geneva. In other words, it's absolutely delicious with tuna and a couple of slices of fresh tomatoes.

Oh yeah, and those tomatoes? They're staying firm and tasty for more than 48 hours. All hail the whole foods revolution.

After picking up groceries and yummy drinks like carrot juice tonight at Fresh Fields, we picked up a veritable litany of movies at Hollywood video and then stopped at Sabs' work briefly so he could switch the lastup tapes on one of the servers.

Then we headed home to watch The Prince of Egypt and some very good prepared chow from the deli at Fresh Fields. They make truly kick-ass mashed potatoes and a very yummy, if spicy, butternut squash-couscous.

The Prince of Egypt managed to both touch and amaze me. Not just because it's an old, old story and fraught with meaning and history as well as faith all by itself, but because the animation and song-writing carried a depth that served only to enhance the story. Unlike most Disney ventures, I never cringed at anything that was tweaked or added. Sure, they had two comic figures in the form of the Egyptian priest/magicians, but they didn't stick out, they were worked seamlessly into the narrative and their presence wasn't an intrusion.

They also made Zipporah a much larger part of the story, and into a very strong female character. Zipporah herself isn't seen much in the actual bible, so there really is a lot of room to speculate into what she was like. It's also, of course extremely politically correct to include such a character, one who is of her own mind and spirit. Yet again, the expansion on her character didn't detract from the film and remains true to the spirit of the original story: she still follows Moses on his journey and willingly joins his people.

The only parts that I wasn't too happy with were the omission of Moses' real mother as his nursemaid and the de-emphasizing of Aaron's role as right hand man and charismatic speaker. This is a connection to his roots that I think was probably very important and cutting it out seemed a bit shaky.

However, the movie does a good job of making a much more human story out of what is essentially, a handful of paragraphs in the bible. Playing up the differences between the two brothers allows the film to explore concepts of discrimination, loyalty, the roots of enmity and the power of the call of faith and true identity in ways that the text only hints at.

By fleshing out the relationship between Moses and Rameses, we get a better sense of Pharaoh's pride, as well as the values that formed his attitude. Moses' journey to his faith is also given more meaning as a result, since we see what he gave up and are viscerally shown his growing realization that he has been living a lie.

I cried when Yocheved sends her baby off on the river -- the song was very poignant and played my heart strings just so. I cried at the end because the story of a people finally being delivered from slavery is very moving. So while the film isn't 100% true to the source, I'd consider it to be a fine interpretation and one that made me want to believe, if not in the God of the Israelites, then simply in something greater than myself and the human race.

That alone I think, is plenty of argument for the power and poignancy of the film. A film which is also gorgeous to look at and whose very beauty underlines the strength of its message.

We also watched Stargate: SG-1 in between the first hour of the film and the last half hour and then rolled right on into bed.

Sleep is a good thing and in far too short a supply around here lately.

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