When I was a little girl, my mom did her grocery shopping at a tiny family store at the end of our street. It was called Fowler's Market -- owned (of course) by Pa Fowler. The store was in the front of the house; the family lived in the back and the basement. The counter was just inside the door to the left, with a big old fashioned cash register and big jars of penny candy. There were root beer barrels, Mary Janes, Nik-L-Nips, and licorice in the jars, and lots of other candy bars behind the counter.
Pa would let his regular customers charge their groceries. Of course, he kept track of everything by writing it down. Mom would sometimes charge her groceries if she didn't have enough cash with her, then she would pay off the account every month.
When I was eight or nine, I figured out that I could walk down to the store, pick out a few candy bars and a grape Nehi, and then tell Pa to charge it. Free candy! The second or third time I did this, Pa asked, "Does your mother know you're doing this?" Busted!!
He stocked potatoes and other veggies in bins along one side of the store. There were shelves of cereal and dry goods; Cokes and Nehis were in a cooler. In the back of the store was the meat locker. If you wanted a pound of hamburger, Pa would go into the locker, get a slab of meat, and grind it up right then and there for you. Same with steaks and chops and roasts -- I guess he kept sides of beef and pork in that locker; I never saw the inside.
Eventually Pa Fowler's Market became an country store, selling antiques and overpriced gifts and tchotchkes. More recently it was a little restaurant that specialized in fried chicken and rudeness.
Now, however, it is a wonderful Italian trattoria, called Pacci's. Joe and I had dinner there tonight. Instead of penny candy and bins of potatoes, there is a nice bar, pretty wooden tables, and a wall of wines. The walls are a soft yellow and feature old-timey wall sconces. Red curtains frame the two big front windows. It's simple, lovely, and homey.
I had a delicious ravioli bolognese, the big pillows of pasta were stuffed with creamy mozzarella cheese and covered with a hearty, meaty sauce. Joe had pasta and Italian sausages, which he raved about. We got to try a sample of the appetizer special, a pan seared tuna served on steamed wasabi seaweed. I was a little hinky about the seaweed, but it was yummy and really complemented the medium-rare tuna.
And that cannoli? Oh holy dear sweet Jesus! The shells were covered in chocolate; the filling was light and just sweet enough.
I'm going to enjoy going back -- to reminisce about the past and to enjoy the present.