Gastronomic Adventures Around the Bend

Articles
August 11, 2010

Gastronomic Adventures Around the Bend

Supermarkets looking for a way to excite the food lovers and the food curious could borrow the energy of dining clubs with an affinity for the unusual.

Supermarkets looking for a way to excite the food lovers and the food curious could borrow the energy of dining clubs with an affinity for the unusual. Ethnic restaurants and other underground sites build event buzz online as they prepare to serve theme meals to food enthusiasts – think lamb heads, insects, yak meat and octopus – who get to scratch their palates’ curiosity.

The New York Times noted many examples of events in its home city – “Vietnamese in Brooklyn, West African in the Bronx, Sri Lankan on Staten Island and Uzbek in Queens” – yet the phenomenon occurs nationwide. Many people want to try distinctive foods from other cultures. The Lempert Report believes they’d deeply value the experience from a supermarket that won’t rupture their wallets like a restaurant could. 

Let’s call this a shot of food adrenaline – if people could afford it and it came from a trusted food authority like their favorite supermarket. After two-plus years of eating more at home (boring), they’d like some easy excitement. Who’s better to deliver it than the supermarket that carries foods from diverse cuisines?

We’re not suggesting that supermarkets literally create fine-dining events after hours; that’s not their expertise. We are saying they could sample unusual foods, perhaps made by neighborhood restaurant chefs who’d love the chance to promote their culinary skills. How else could stores excel in gastronomic adventures? How about displays and signage at the service meat and seafood counters; detailed articles and recipes distributed in-store and printable on the retailer website; store tours with special emphasis on international cuisines and specific tips on preparing them at home successfully.  

Community outreach could help too, especially in a period like this where families already share in group cooking to economize. Consider a neighborhood potluck lunch on a weekend, set up on tables in the parking lot for an hour or two, where local residents bring a dish they make and a sheet describing why it’s a cultural favorite. The store could incentivize people to display with a percentage discount off their next shopping trip.