Allow be to digress for a moment from my geeky food rantings. With luck, I can still cover either geekdom or food in this post.
We live within walking distance of a mall which calls itself University Mall. Last night we decided to go visit the mall and walk around a bit. While walking around, we came across the Meyer and Frank at one end of the mall. They had a large fabric sign proclaiming the name, hanging over another more permanent sign, already lit up, proclaiming "Macy's".
Now, I'd never been in a Macy's before, at least not that I can remember. The only thing I knew of them was that they have some sort of parade in New York that involes turkeys. But rumor has it Macy's will soon be moving into Crossroads Plaza in Salt Lake City, assuming they haven't done so already. This is apparently part of a push by the Crossroads Plaza management to make the mall a little more high class by pushing out all the interesting stores that people actually want to go to, and replacing them with stores that people in my tax bracket can barely afford to walk through, much less buy anything. Meanwhile, all of the interesting stores have relocated themselves elsewhere, mostly to The Gateway mall down the street, which is what's known as an outdoor mall. This means that they have dispensed with the cost of things like heating in the winter and air conditioning and even shade in the summer, in favor of making their patrons either freeze or get sunburns and heatstroke while walking between stores.
Back to Macy's. Having never been in one before, I was curious. From the outside looking in, it was already very different from most Utah mall department stores. For instance, there were a lot of square, white pillars. Maybe it was the starkness of the pillars, but the place also looked somewhat... well, empty isn't the word. Open? Spacious? It reminded me of a museum.
Okay, first impressions. As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that it was very bright. Especially having walked through a mall will a relatively subdued lighting in the walkways, my computer geek eyes took a minute to get over the shock of the brightness. When I was able to see again, I looked around me. Something about the place felt very... New York. The kind of New York you see on TV. They were making an effort to make the place look clean, chic and well-maintained, but not inviting. In fact, I wondered if my shopping experience would be truly complete unless I was mugged three blocks away, upon leaving the store. Sorry New York, that's the kind of stereotype you've earned yourself. I blame Central Park.
I was immediately reminded of a quote from Ferris Beuller: "It's very beautiful, it's very cold, and you're not allowed to touch anything." Except it wasn't really all that beautiful, it just looked like it was trying to be. And we were allowed to touch things, but I quickly realized that we had no desire to. But it was very cold. We decided to take the escalators up. We glanced momentarily at the second floor, which had a lot of uptown-looking clothing. We quickly continued up to the third floor, where I found the kitchenwares.
The first kitchenwares I found were plates. Glazed ceramic plates suitable for any middle-class kitchen, I suppose. My wife quickly spotted one of the sets that we had received at our wedding, which had been on our gift registry at Bed Bath and Beyond. Macy's had them for about the same price. I spotted several other sets available at the great BB&B before we headed over to the fine china display. Again, I recognized several of the sets as ones that I had scoffed at when we did our BB&B registry. I don't like fine china. It makes me feel uncomfortable. As we moved on, I discovered my favorite part of the kitchenwares section: cookware.
The cookware section had a lot of stainless steel and a lot of cast iron. The stainless steel didn't look like it was meant to be used much. The cast iron looked like it was ready to be used, but not for anything useful. I did find a "deep-dish" cast iron cooking vessel, which looked like a miniature wok without handles, or perhaps a very heavy serving bowl. It intrigued me, but I was too afraid to look at the price. By the time we got to the KitchenAid mixers, I barely had it in me to drool, and that says something. I mean, this is KitchenAid we're talking about.
I'd never thought of the University Mall as comfortable and inviting until we walked back into it from Macy's. Fortunately, we were not mugged. Still, it was the last store we visited before heading home again. I'm sure I'll probably go back at some point, but only under duress. As for my kitchen equipment, I will likely continue to shop at my local restuarant supply stores. Sure, it may not be the shiniest and prettiest in the world, and certainly looks dull compared to the Emerilware at Macy's, but I figure if it can last even six months in a professional kitchen (and of course, it is designed to last for years under heavy use), then I'm sure my family and I will get at least a lifetime or two out of it. Bonus: the restaurant supply stuff tends to cost much, much less as well. I think I'll stick with that.