Why I Would Drive 30 Miles

Two words: Cookie Butter. I don’t live in an urban “food desert” or far out in the country. I’m comfortably situated in the suburbs of Kansas City with easy access to several well-stocked supermarkets. But the nearest Trader Joe’s, home of Cookie Butter, is on the other side of town.

On one of my infrequent trips to Trader Joe’s I noticed a small knot of people all holding jars of what appeared to be peanut butter and excitedly trading suggestions on how to enjoy it. I leaned in to see what they were talking about and discovered Cookie Butter. Evidently someone had the brilliant idea of crushing British gingersnap brown sugar-flavored Speculoos cookies into a creamy spread. Although I have since found many recipes for cookies, breads and other ways to use Cookie Butter, mine rarely made it past the end of my spoon. When it did, I usually spread it on a sliced apple. If I had a jar now, which I do not, I would stir it into my oatmeal or layer it on toast with a sliced banana.

I do not have Cookie Butter right now because Trader Joe’s is a destination shopping trip for me. The nearest store is 30 miles away. I was last there a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Since I’m not a regular, the produce department isn’t terribly useful to me. My local supermarket has very good produce, and I drive past it several times a week whether I want to or not. What draws me to TJ’s is the unknown, the discovery. In amongst the regular stuff I find things that I would never find at my local supermarket. I find myself inventing reasons to drive across town when I am hungry for Marcona almonds or burgundy-marinated lamb. I can buy ten different kinds of dill pickles at my supermarket but they have never heard of cornichons, which are necessary for my favorite French potato salad. I could just bake my chicken thighs, but they’re so much better simmered in Green Curry Sauce. And who knew there was such a thing as apple-pear cider to sip on a frosty evening?

A trip to Trader Joe’s is like a treasure hunt - one that I get to enjoy until all my loot has been eaten. The fun and funky products I find there turn my routine shopping trip into an outing and make my meals more interesting. I appreciate my local supermarket. It serves me well week in and week out. I can find everything on my grocery list and have it home and put away in the time it takes just to make the drive to TJ’s. But every now and then, I want to get out of my routine and visit a different neighborhood. I want to spend some time exploring the shelves and cases for new flavors and ideas.

I want Cookie Butter.

Posted by Randa.




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