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Food Shopping: In Praise of Otto’s of Germantown

Rural Intelligence FoodDesigner Carey Maloney of M (Group) normally writes our Rural Restoration Blog in the Style Section, but this week he delivers a paean to his local grocer instead.
215 Main Street in Germantown was the home of the Central Market from 1927 until two years ago when the doors closed. Now—I bear glad tidings!—Otto Leuschel has filled the void brilliantly with the new Otto’s Market.
With Otto’s we’ve regained not just a key source of sustenance, we’ve got our community headquarters / bully pulpit / country-networking site back.  Locally this is major news—the relief among the neighbors is palpable…
(Disclaimer: I am not a Foodie.  One of my talents, self-proclaimed and probably not to be envied, is being able to feed myself for days on end from a Mobil station.  It ain’t pretty—my sodium count shoots north and my self-esteem dives but I take perverse pride.)
Rural Intelligence FoodSo I approach Otto’s Market from my personal vantage.  Otto passes muster for me with daily donuts (homemade!) and the Times, the Post, and F[inancial] T[imes] Weekend. A tour of the shelves on my first visit—eyes brimming with tears of joy—found Pace’s Picante Sauce from Texas (OMG!) and Tea Tree Oil.  I don’t need Tea Tree Oil (boy, I need Pace’s), but how reassuring to know it is there.  A sign of thoughtful merchandising. I saw that my upstate world could again be complete.  The Mobil station is relegated to supplying gas and Lotto (I am the target market ‘cause I got a dollar and a dream. Tonight’s jackpot—$105 million!).
Hermes has given his (more substantial) stamp of approval to the produce.  Everyone approves of the meat market / butcher. (Talk about not-my-thing—I never go to a butcher.  I head right to the already plastic-wrapped / pre-priced steaks.  No way I repeat that awful moment in 1982 when the blood covered man at Lobel’s at 82nd and Madison announced that my two lamb chops would be $38.)  But if I did want high end meat, I would go to Otto’s.
Otto stocks baked goods (my thing) from Our Daily Bread in Chatham and fresh eggs from the Germantown Community Farm—can’t get fresher or closer than that.  Cheeses come from The Amazing Real Live Food Company, whose goal is “to make vital products that honor our body as a living organism and promote its good health”.  ExxonMobil can’t make that statement (why do I say that? XOM makes plenty of statements that are less factual than that one would be.)
Rural Intelligence FoodRural Intelligence Food
Plus check out those shelves—full of stuff!  Saves a long drive and allows for socializing and shopping. Works for me.
There are a couple of little tables and a counter at the window to perch and drink coffee and eat a sandwich and watch the Germantown world pass by.
Otto’s Market fills our food marketing void and, more important, fills the void in our little community.  Check it out.
Otto’s Market
215 Main Street, Germantown; 518.537.7200

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/17/09 at 10:03 AM • Permalink