This is why New Orleans can't have a Trader Joe's



Trader Joes Vegan Pad Thai with Tofu: doctor-slappin good.
  • Trader Joe's Vegan Pad Thai with Tofu: doctor-slappin' good.
Ah, Trader Joe's. Specialty market of the NPR listener, the gluten-free mom, the impoverished bohemian, the Nice Older Lady who is buying an entire case of Two-Buck Chuck. In the dearth of supermarkets after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleanians petitioned TJ's to move into town to scratch newly developed itches for things like Thai-chili-roasted peanuts and frozen Alsace-Lorraine flatbreads. But no dice: all inquiries to Trader Joe's were met with a polite note that the chain's famous low prices are built on a strict distribution model focused mostly on the West and East Coasts. No Trader Schwegmann's for you, Louisiana!

... which may be a good thing, if it prevents supermarket slapfights like this one:

Don't get between an opera singer and her frozen, vegan pad Thai with tofu.

A fight between amateur mezzo soprano Marcella Caprario and fellow shopper Dr. Cathleen London in the frozen-food aisle of the Trader Joe's on the Upper West Side is set to hit Manhattan Criminal Court today.

In one corner is Caprario, a 37-year-old mom who also teaches grade-school English.

In the other is London, a family practitioner, occasional TV talking head, avid triathlete and divorced mother of two boys who has appeared as an expert on "The Joy Behar Show," CNN and Fox TV.

(These are, by the way, two extremely typical examples of the average Trader Joe's shopper. Trust me on this.)

London says she was shopping in the popular grocery on Broadway at 72nd Street last winter when frozen-pad-Thai-dinner fan Caprario slapped her in the face, "causing redness, swelling and substantial pain," according to court papers.

Caprario admits that she slapped the doctor — but insists that the doctor needed slapping.

I've had that pad Thai. It's decent, but it's not as good as the non-vegan, non-tofu, regular pad Thai, which might be worth slapping a doctor. But if Trader Joe's specialty items can inspire a mezzo soprano and a doctor/"avid triathlete" to come to blows in the frozen food aisle, imagine the weaponry that would be produced at a New Orleans Trader Joe's over the last box of Organic Raisin Bran Clusters or Chickenless Pulled Chicken.

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