In a recent chatroom discussion, I had to correct someone on what exactly is upscale/gourmet/specialty food. He considered his local Mom & Pop grocery that also sold cheeses and Italian Cookies (especially the anniset (sp?) ones) to be gourmet. I corrected him by sending links for a local gourmet mom/pop shop near me as well as the link for Stonewall Kitchens.
This got me to thinking: What is the point of differentiation that makes a food store a specialty/gourmet shop versus the typical grocery store?
Sure, a specialty food store has lots of imported goods that other stores may not have like Crunchy and Flake bars or cookies and biscuits from England or Nutella or Spaetzle (all of which except the Spaetzl you can now get off the shelves in your main stream supermarket chain). But then these goods are found in the mainstream in England.
Is it imported goods youd have to send Marco Polo out for? Is it shelves of non-main-stream cooking ingredients like black current jam, or orange extract in a tiny expensive perfume style glass container? Is it chunky style preserves of high quality ingredients like stonewall kitchen (versus the mass produced Smuckers) or even Devonshire and clotted cream? Is it honey with the a piece of the honeycomb included in the jar (like tequila and the worm ). Of course foodstuffs like pate, foi gras, rarer cheeses like Stilton, etc. being sold are a given.
So fellow hounds, I pose to you this question: What is the it factor that makes a food store a specialty/gourmet shop- how do you define/explain it. Or if it isnt definedable is it like smut in that I cant define it but I know it when I see it.
Thanks in advance and looking forward to a good discussion thread on this.