The Vocabulary of Supermarkets- Loblaws

A continuation of my VOCABULARY OF SUPERMARKETS series. The first one I wrote was on Costco. Click to read.


Our geography teacher once mentioned a secret Loblaws in Toronto. Still, I have not figured out where this cryptic supermarket is. And I guess there’s no rush to find out, since really, you just need one Loblaws in your life, as long as you’re not moving. But the existence of this “secret Loblaws” does say something interesting about this “home to Great Food”,- you can picture a secret Loblaws, but do you see the possibility of there existing a secret Costco?

Perhaps Loblaws and Costco don’t really vary that much in size, but Loblaws is just a milder image in my head- compared to all the whirring of giant coolers, and all the whirring of people. Loblaws is better-lit, the décor more polished, and provides, in general, a greater variety. For example, I can find more kinds of cereal at Loblaws than at Costco. And of course, Loblaws is more expensive.

My family visits Loblaws more often than we do Costco. Loblaws has witnessed me and my dad rushing to buy a bouquet when my mom had already landed in the airport. It also witnessed me and my mom shopping for materials to make pizza for the first time, studying all the different kinds of cheese. It witnessed me hugging a box of Reese’s Puffs cereal, and marvelling at the ingenuity of whoever invented it (I mean, it’s peanut butter and cereal! Can you find anything better on this planet?).

In fact, Loblaws had the honour to be the place where I first discovered the beauty of grocery shopping.

If Costco revealed to me the size and vibrancy of North American Culture, then Loblaws showed me the variety of a North American life, and the wonder of all its possibilities. 

Whoa, that sounds very corny.

What I was trying to convey there, is just that thanks to how Loblaws has almost everything related to food, I learned about baking and all the fun you can have in a kitchen.

When I stumbled into the baking supplies aisle, it was like I just saw the most gigantic cake covered in sprinkles on top of Oreos on top of chocolate icing on top of… I never knew there existed so many sizes of spoons, spatulas and bowls. Nor did I know that you could make INSTANT jello and caramel brûlée. All the food colouring, the icing with bedazzling colours (ok I am exaggerating), and all the different shapes of molds… I could see all the baking videos on Youtube and Facebook running towards me, together with a herd of cakes and muffins and gooey cookies behind them.

Of course, that fantasy baking virtuoso did not just happen. My mom and I studied everything on the shelves, but only bought a pizza tray and a box of instant caramel brulée. The pizza was a success, and the caramel brulée was a success too. In fact, an excessive success- I did not plan beforehand, and made three full bowls of sweet thick brulée, which took us a whole week to finish as dessert.

Although Costco has everything too, Loblaws just feels more intimate to me. Compared to all the running around, grabbing huge boxes at Costco, Loblaws is where we buy things that aren’t necessities, but ways to explore our new life at Canada. (wow, I just got super cheesy again.) The Provolone cheese, the pepperoni and so on that i bought there allowed me to just spend some seemingly purposeless time in the kitchen with my parents.

The best moment is when the pizza gets out of the oven, and my dad cuts it with chopsticks, while I pour Japanese sake for my parents. My mom leans against the kitchen counter and says: “Agh, a western, Chinese and Japanese dinner.”

Loblaws helped make that happen.



5 thoughts on “The Vocabulary of Supermarkets- Loblaws

  1. One of the marks of a great creative writer is to be able take a supposedly mundane subject and make it interesting and delightful. You did it. Chekov used to say he could write a short story about anything, like an ash tray. Read Hemingway’s Clean, Well-lighted Place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You keep writing Mia. Someday you’ll be famous. Have you ever heard of the Don Juan books by Carlos Castenada. Don Juan was a Yaki First Nation wise man, who may or may not have been an actual person. Anyway, he told Carlos in one of the books, “Find a path that has heart and give it all of you’ve got.” Simple, but profound. Follow your heart Mia. And don’t get side-tracked in “vain pursuits.”


  3. Thank you for all this kind advice! I will seek and see all the marvels around me, as Don Juan says. 😉 And I will write about them, since it’s really the only way I can record them- I am terrible at drawing. 😀


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