Living Like a Local: Revelation in Aisle 12

Would you trade San Marzano tomatoes and fresh wild salmon for this beach? Because I wouldn't.


In the travel world, the concept of ‘living like a local’ is an oft-tossed around phrase.  I blame Rick Steves.  And my version of ‘living like a local’ has always included trying to find places–typically dining establishments–that locals frequent.  But I was going about it all wrong.  To truly live like a local you need to get out of the bars and restaurants–and into the grocery store.

I can’t think of a single better place to get to know the local culture.  First, in grocery stores, you will find actual locals.  People who are on vacation typically don’t grocery shop, as they don’t typically have the resources to prepare meals in hotel or motel rooms.  But second, by perusing the aisles–or, as I just did, desperately searching for something specific for dinner that just does not exist in a certain region–you’ll learn a lot about the local culture.

I just came back from a semi-failed shopping trip in rural Delaware.  There was not a fresh piece of seafood to be found, and the meat section was…well…kind of scary.  I could not find London Broil, a passable piece of steak, or even a quality pork loin.  I did, however, find pork neck, pigs feet, and pig’s stomach.  All sitting there on little styrofoam squares as though they were things people pick up on their way home from work on a Tuesday night to make for diner.

Because people do that here.  And I’m less than three hours from home.

Inevitably, when you travel, you’ll end up somewhere one day and think gee, I could move here.  If you’re like me, you’ll think that again and again. Portland, Maine, San Francisco, and New Orleans all seemed like a pretty good idea to me at one point in the past year. And I have to say, rural Delaware is pretty great too.  I drove around this morning and watched the mist burn off of the cornfields and listened to Kenny Chesney with the windows rolled down.  And then I went to the beach.  It was nice, and I thought gee, I could move here.  And then I tried to find a nice piece of salmon and a cedar plank for dinner tonight and, well, there went that idea.

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