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No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

To me, a supermarket has never been just a place to buy food. Rather, it’s been a site of doubts – do I dare to grill a duck breast? Of dreams – one day, I will make turducken! And of existential fears – does the world really need dill pickle-flavored potato chips?

So, naturally, when I was walking up to Astor Place late last year and saw a brand-new supermarket looming in the distance, my mind reeled. Was this really and truly a Wegmans, an outpost of the fabled grocery store chain, official tailgate headquarters of the Buffalo Bills, here in the heart of hipster Manhattan?

Wegmans Tomato Sauce

I guess you could say my whole body shuddered, and suddenly I was thinking of Adele, a beloved friend of my family who first introduced me to the store. And later that night, in a pale imitation of Proust, I tried to put down on paper all the emotions it aroused.

Wegmans Pasta

The result was this essay, “What’s a Wegmans?” which is dedicated to our friends Ken and Kathy, who frequent a branch upstate and once described it as “the whole world within four walls.” I am so grateful to The Inquisitive Eater, New School Food, for providing a wonderful home for the piece on Leap Day 2024! Read it here.

I hope it stirs up remembrances of your own!