Certain new grocery store products can make a big splash just by sitting on the shelf.
The other day I was walking past the frozen vegetable cases at my neighborhood Safeway in Boulder, Colorado. I spied Safeway Select Chimichurri Rice and Safeway Select Nasi Goreng. First thought: The mainstream American home cook may be advancing a lot faster than any of us culinary prognosticators have suggested.
I can’t recall ever seeing the word “chimichurri” – an oil and herb condiment, anywhere except on menus and bottles at Argentinian and South American eateries. Foodies would know the term even though “chimichurri rice” is an invented dish.
“Nasi goreng” – literally “fried rice” in Indonesian cuisine – is a term you see only on Indonesian menus and at Asian markets. You could find it under an ethnic label as a frozen entree, but what’s nasi goreng doing on a plastic bag of private label/house brand/generic frozen rice?
Granted, my Safeway is especially hip and food shoppers in Boulder are unusually knowledgeable, well-heeled and yes, trendy. This is a town that has four Whole Foods Markets (under various names), plus Sunflower, Sprouts, King Soopers and various ethnic emporia.
However, Safeway Select is a mainstream private label, not gourmet, organic or imported. To put products like those into production, Safeway’s research must show that there are an awful lot of shoppers out there who would choose to serve chimichurri rice with their chicken tenders tonight.
– John Lehndorff