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RFT's Guide to Grocery Shopping in St. Louis



"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." The French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said that. Well, the Iron Chef said it, too, but Brillat-Savarin said it first.

These days, a more telling assessment of a person's makeup might be found by asking the question: "Tell me where you buy your eats, and I will tell you what you are."

Brillat-Savarin didn't spend much time examining that theory in his 1825 masterwork, The Physiology of Taste, Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy. For some 500 pages the French lawyer and politician rhapsodized about meat, fruit, wine, pastry and other wondrous foodstuffs; prescribed low-fat, low-carb meals and high-aphrodisiac meals (note: these were often not the same); described the mechanics of digestion and even threw in a few recipes.

But where to obtain all of this food? Brillat- Savarin, naturally, believed only in buying the very, very best. Of his favorite pastry shop, he wrote: "The touch of common man seems completely foreign to it." (He quite thoughtfully provided the bakery's address, but sadly, in the 200-some years since Brillat-Savarin published his book, it's gone out of business.) He also very likely had a housekeeper to do all the schlepping from store to store, sniffing of questionable produce and standing in line at the 19th-century equivalent of a long checkout line in which the person at the very front has $200 worth of groceries and then insists upon paying by check.

Not all of us are so lucky. For some of us, grocery shopping is a matter of convenience, the nearest place we can grab a carton of milk and a carton of eggs and maybe a super-cheap bottle of wine on the way home from work. For others, it's a matter of strategic planning — the quickest route between the butcher in south city, the cheesemonger in Clayton, the farmers' market in Maplewood and maybe the bakery out in west county, but only if there's time. Or maybe the strategy operates more like an episode of The Price Is Right: Can I buy enough food with this last five-dollar bill to last until payday?

Fortunately, Riverfront Times is a full-service newspaper. And, unlike Brillat-Savarin, we'll tell you exactly who you are based on where you grocery shop. All you have to do is click here to get started.

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