As a rule, I don’t seek out esoteric ingredients when I’m testing for a story.  But the world of whole grains is splendid and diverse and increasingly available, so I thought I’d take a chance on “Red rice salad with edamame, tamari walnuts and ginger”.  On closer inspection, I saw it called for Bhutanese  red rice (not just any red rice, mind you!).   Despair all ye who enter here!–here being the Whole Foods in Hadley, Mass., where rice of a different color was not to be had.

As my son and I drove up to join the rest of the family, staying in rural Vermont, I mentally crossed the recipe off my testing list.  But a shopping trip had to be done regardless–the inevitable consequence of a strange new kitchen–so off I drove to the college town of Middlebury.

On first inspection, there was no rice in the bulk section at the Middlebury Co-op.  But then a sales clerk pointed back over my shoulder.   There was no rice in the bulk section because there was no room in the bulk section for rice.  The rice had its own wall.  I started walking–5 kinds of rice.  10 kinds of rice.  15 kinds of rice.  And there, modestly tucked among its brothers in this rainbow clan of rice, was the Bhutanese red rice.

I won’t even start on the local side of the equation: the goat milk, the strawberries, the greens and scapes, the meat from nearby farms.   It’s been a long time since I fell in love with a store, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it:  I ♥ the