Has anybody seen the rice milk? | AspenTimes.com

Has anybody seen the rice milk?

By the time Whole Paycheck opens in El Jebel – excuse me, West Basalt – in 2010, I may have figured out where everything is at the neighboring City Market.I’ve informed my household to send out a rescue party if I depart for the grocery store and never return. They’ll find me scouring the aisles for rice milk. Or else I’m stuck waiting for someone to maneuver a mammoth SUV into an angled parking spot from the wrong direction in the reconfigured parking lot.The El Jebel City Market ought to play that old Clash tune, “Lost in the Supermarket,” over its loudspeakers in constant rotation.For those who haven’t experienced the joy of grocery shopping in the midvalley lately, the City Market has been expanding within the confines of its existing building – to accommodate a Starbucks coffee shop, I guess – and rearranging the groceries on virtually a nightly basis as the remodeling continues.Finding the cough syrup has meant enlisting the help of other confused shoppers to form a search party of sorts. Grocery shopping has become a much more neighborly affair now that complete strangers are conferring on soup sightings and such.More than once, someone in my household has returned from a shopping quest without one or more items on the grocery list simply because we couldn’t find this or that and gave up looking. I needed to kick the Fig Newtons habit anyway.I don’t know if this is all being done as a pre-emptive strike against the coming competition from Whole Foods or if City Market really needed a snack chips aisle wide enough to land a small jet. At any rate, our corner of the universe now boasts a serve-yourself antipasti bar and a spiffy new cheese display. I assumed the salad bar was history when it disappeared from view, until I stumbled across it while I was looking for the fruit selection that once occupied the salad bar’s new locale.Over in the meat section, instead of simply picking up a package of “fresh” fish from the refrigerated case, shoppers now get to stand at the counter and wait in line for someone to slice off a chunk of salmon or whatever. Convenience has been sacrificed for the illusion of a fish market, it seems to me. Last time I checked, though, the ocean was till a considerable distance from El Jebel.That does not, incidentally, mean you can’t buy a beach chair at the grocery story. City Market appears bent on becoming a one-stop shopping destination, offering everything from a veritable bookstore to lawn furniture and birdhouses within its confines. On the other hand, they’ve eliminated my favorite brand and variety of coffee bean, ensuring at least one unhappy customer as a result of the upheaval.Here’s the strange part: I’ve felt lost in the El Jebel City Market ever since I moved to the midvalley, more than a year ago. After a decade of shopping in the cramped Aspen City Market, I knew that place like the back of my hand. I could shop in Aspen with my eyes closed. I’ve wandered the comparatively gigantic aisles of the El Jebel store with a dazed look ever since I arrived. It took me forever to remember where to find the marinades, for some reason.I’m sure I won’t be able to find them now.Janet Urquhart thinks the end is near. She found paper towels in the same location twice. E-mail her at janet@aspentimes.com

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