Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday morning shopping and aesthetic consciousness

One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is to visit the Italian Centre Shop in Edmonton's Little Italy. A beautifully refreshing change from Save-On or Safeway. Also, no one seems to mind if you take photos. (The big stores worry that you're photographing price stickers, I guess). There were two other people taking photos in the store when we were there - a couple posing in the pasta row and a woman taking shots of people in the café/bakery.

The light in the store is great, as the entire front is windows. All the big box stores around here feel like warehouses, dungeons, and the natural light is part of the store's beauty.

I've quoted before from a conversation with Li-Young Lee - his thoughts on inhabiting an "aesthetic consciousness" when you're engaged with the more mundane daily tasks, looking after kids, grocery shopping, cooking. Carrying a camera with you when you're grocery shopping, anyway, is one way to stay in this realm, to stay in a state where you're conscious of light, colour, shapes, forms.

But okay mainly - we're there for the pasta. Which is gloriously abundant. You name the shape, they have it. So, yes, I took a lot of photos of pasta. What can I say - I love the stuff.

I can't say why looking at rows and stacks of pasta makes me so happy. But it does.

But there is more:

The produce section was packed full of people and I haven't graduated to that point where I feel like I can snap pictures of people without their permission. Feels a bit weird to me. But I did get a shot of the oranges -  which are so much prettier with the leaves attached somehow.

Turkish Delight!

The row of olive oil is also quite gorgeous in my opinion. So many choices.

There's something so nice about shopping in a store with natural light. The lovely worn floors. You can hear Italian being spoken down every row. Honestly, I could spend all day in this store.

And what's more lovely than a row of canned tomatoes?? Seriously.

And here's Rob, deciding which espresso to buy.

When you leave the store you can't help but glance across the street at the statue of Mr. Spinelli, who founded the store in 1959. We've been enduring a bit of a cold snap these past weeks - around -20 c or lower until yesterday. Definitely toque weather.


  1. I love the pictures, Shawna. And I do agree about the importance of natural light. I smiled at the photo of Rob staring at the espresso coffee Marco and I have found ourselves often stuck contemplating those shelves. Which one? Which one?

  2. I love that store too... So many temptations for the senses. I only go less than five times a year, but I enjoy every one of them :)

  3. Love these.... my Italian heart is so happy!

  4. Shawna, I recognized it immediately and you're making me homesick! I still get them to mail my Kimbo coffee beans to me -- I order 4 or 5 of the large bags at a time. Even when we lived up north, we'd keep a running list of everything we needed to pick up there once we got back to Edmonton: Kimbo espresso beans, olive oil (usually half a dozen bottles), balsamic (3-4), Gloria vegetable spread, some fresh olives, pasta (love the ditali), and usually some fresh items to be eaten when we got back to my mom's: a lovely crusty loaf, mortadella and capicolli, cheese, olives, and in the summer we'd always take some of their gelato back for us all to devour. Oh how I miss it. I've been going there for nearly 40 years and it has certainly changed, especially in recent years. But it has never lost its sincerity (yes a store that has sincerity), it's down home feel, and low prices too. I love that place. Of all the places in Edmonton, that would likely be THE one that makes me feel like I've come home. My son still goes there and gets them to make him a special sub sandwich in the deli -- lots of guys now go there for lunch apparently. It's become popular for those thick, fresh, and delicious sandwiches. Oh gosh, I could go on and on. Thank you so much for this beautiful array of images that takes me back home.


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