Thursday June 20, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- I try, and I do OK, but when I shop at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace on the Pittsfield-Lenox Road, I usually feel both inadequate and unsure about myself. This feeling does not happen at any other market or grocery store; those visits producing a very confident consumer. No, being at Guido’s is almost like being in church. There is a certain reverence that shoppers there exude, one that I have a hard time matching.

But if there is a higher power inside the venue that began basically as a wooden shack back in 1979, it would help explain the things I put in my cart. Few of these items, by the way, are actually what I went there for in the first place. Whatever spell I am under while slowly walking the narrow aisles with my small cart often leads to ‘different’ types of purchases.

For example: This week’s visit saw me at the register paying for something called "Blue Monkey Pure Coconut Water" and "Chipotle" hot dogs, a weiner that is really hot and spicy. Hold the mustard and relish on that bad boy. Not necessary. The coconut water? Well, let’s just say the jury is still out.

I also bought a pound and a half of squid. Squid? Yeah, squid. All of a sudden I’m feeling like SpongeBob SquarePants while giving the nice fellow my order. The squid, thankfully, wasn’t for me. I’ve tried squid. To me it’s like chewing on a big eraser.


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The man behind the counter asked me if I wanted the squid with or without the tentacles. What? OK, one more reason not to buy squid. I said, "Sure, give me the tentacles."

I was feeling pretty brazen. You know, live fast die young.

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I’m like a little child at Guido’s. I reach for things that have bright colors, and make no mistake, everything shines in this European-styled marketplace. The greens and reds and purples, etc. It’s almost a holiday or celebratory feel.

But back to the seafood section. I had the shopping low moment of my life at Guido’s. It wasn’t their fault, it was mine. I wasn’t paying very close attention when I ordered two pounds of oysters. I should have known better. I’ve been to seafood restaurants where oysters have been ordered and I remember seeing them on the menu. You pay for each oyster individually. They are expensive, I guess.

In my haste, I looked through the glass and saw the oysters being displayed next to the clams. The clams were being sold by the pound. But the oysters were being sold individually and the sign correctly stated that.

I just saw the price but didn’t notice the "each." I thought the oysters were being sold by the pound, and it looked like the bargain of a lifetime. So, however many oysters make up two pounds, well, that’s how many I bought and what I paid for. This also explained the look on the seafood guy’s face when I ordered. He’d probably never before had anyone order oysters by the pound.

My first clue that something was wrong was at the register when the total for my purchases was about three times more than I thought it should be.

I had a credit card, thankfully. Eventually I figured out what had happened. It was not a shining moment.

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I tip my cap to the Masiero brothers, Matthew and Chris, who co-own Guido’s, and whose vision for a venue like this turned out to be spot on. I find no flaws in the service, the quality of the meat, fish or produce, or any other aspect of the operation. Mingling with all you Lenoxians, New Yorkers and other out-of-towners (staters) -- just scan the license plates in the parking lot -- and Pittsfield folks has taught me to be a more discerning shopper than I seem to be elsewhere.

The Guido’s customers, for the most part, seem to be slow and steady. And they do win the race. I’ve never seen road rage in the aisles despite sometime tight quarters. But why I walk out of there with high-end hot dogs and strange yogurt concoctions I still don’t know. Pure coconut water? There is a force that guides me when I’m there. May it always be with me.

So, now that I’ve figured out the oyster thing I end today with a comment and a question.

Comment: When you leave, don’t try and go across the highway and make a left back into Pittsfield. Go down a bit to the Price Chopper and leave via their stoplight at the entrance. Believe me, it’s quicker than waiting for north and southbound traffic to clear.

Question: If the world is covered 70 percent by water, then why is the price of fish so high? I’m sure there’s a good answer, I just don’t know it. We haven’t really fished out our oceans, have we? Yikes! The price of squid and oysters in the year 2050?

I don’t even want to think about it.

Brian Sullivan can be reached at mariavicsullivan@yahoo.com.