For some years our evening meal has been spaghetti and tomato sauce made at the last minute with a couple of egg-shaped tomatoes, a lot of freshly chopped parsley, garlic, salt and pepper and occasionally a sprinkle of thyme. It was easy, we both like eating it, with some olive oil and cheese maybe added at the end. But now that we have our own--as opposed to a rented--kitchen again here in California, I've been making soups: leek soup, turnip soup, lentil soup, broccoli soup, all just as easy as spaghetti and tomato sauce, and I have acquired a neat little gizmo to blend the ingredients (potato + veg + cream) to a smooth finish. 

In France, we still make spaghetti, but given the variety of the food, cooking dinner in France is a different proposition. Grocery-shopping here in California is a little like shopping for books: you have to get in the car and go somewhere big, and a lot of it is pre-cut and pre-wrapped. I've been thinking about "economies of scale." Sure, for groceries, I like being able to get everything at one store, but I also like the neighborhood fabric of small stores in France. I like the small meat market, the small cheese store, the corner pharmacy where the owners know you and the salespeople are part of the extended family. I like buying the newspaper from a kiosk. I dislike supermarket pharmacies intensely. France is trying to rationalize its small businesses, perhaps just as the US is starting a movement to bring them back, by not allowing chain stores to take over Main Street, by thinking about global trade's effect on employment, as well as the stock market.