On 24th Street in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, there are many small shops and restaurants catering to the area’s affluent clientele. There also used to be a Bell Markets grocery store on 24th.
Bell Markets was founded in the 1940s when Dominick Bell and his two brothers opened a supermarket in San Francisco. Alas, it is no more.
This was where, when I as newly arrived in San Francisco first discovered that it was not a breeze finding the foodstuff I was used to.
Ground beef, I thought, must be the same, right? Nope, here were packages of ground beef with various fat content displayed and I had no idea which one to pick for my homemade Swedish meatballs. If you say Muskot, with a Englishish pronounciation, sound like Muscat, sorta Muscrat without the c, it still does not make sense to the clerk, as it’s called Nutmeg on this side of the pond. And, surprisingly, Koriander is not a green herb with thin leaves, but the seeds yielding Cilantro.
After failing to get ground meat, nutmeg and cilantro I decided on a new tack, and went looking for shrimp. Cooked shrimp in its shell, fresh or frozen. The kind Swedes pour in a nice bowl and gather around on Friday evenings, along with a French Baguette and White Wine. You peel the shrimp while sipping the wine. When you have a nice pile, you butter a piece of bread, add the shrimp, a dollop of mayo or a squeeze of lemon, or both, then indulge with more wine. It’s a nice, slow process and gives your hands something to fiddle with while giving room for conversations to flow.
Had to ask the store manager where to find the shrimp. Described what I was looking for. “Do you have any shrimp like that?”
“No, ma’m, this is the country of convenience; all our shrimp is already peeled”.