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Holiday goodies and all those catalogs

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I am sure that the huge amount of mail-order catalogs that I am receiving now compares to everyone else, in that we are getting the usual inundation of paper urging us to shop more and more. I have bought gifts from catalogs, and clothing from catalogs, and household items from catalogs. I even mention some of them from time to time, such as the King Arthur Flour Company, which is online as well as through their catalog, like most companies. I also appreciate the fine kitchen items that are marketed by the Chef's Catalog.

But this year I am seriously rethinking the idea of buying food from catalogs. It is almost a tradition to order fruitcakes, if you like them, but I was somewhat surprised when I bought one at Safeway in Tucson, took it home and discovered that it is very good! You can also see fruitcakes at Sprouts and Whole Foods, and about that time it occurred to me that Tucson's specialty markets are stocked with delicacies that you simply walk in and buy.

Stephen Colbert was very funny the other night when he addressed the supposedly-revolutionary idea of delivering goods through drones. He asked sarcastically if the company under discussion had ever heard of this radical idea of simply buying things in a brick-and-mortar store.

Long-time readers of this column know that I heartily recommend online shopping because what you buy appears as if by magic at your front door, saving you quite a bit of wear, tear and gasoline. But when it comes to food items like candy and other desserts, we might want to call a halt.

Over in the area of the Park Place Mall in Tucson, on Broadway just west of the mall itself, is the small See's candy outlet, where obviously candy is made every day. See's reputation is right up there, I must say, and once you start thinking in terms of chocolates and petites fours, you might want to get a couple of days' freshness out of actually shopping for them instead of trusting your delicacies to the mail.

The most discouraging thing that ever happened to me was when I mailed some cookies to my son in the Army, only to have them come back to me weeks later, stale of course and no longer edible. What a waste of ingredients! I had actually mailed him things successfully before, but this was a real come-down.

So overall, I think I might enjoy a drive all the way to the northern extreme of Campbell/Kino Parkway in Tucson to the La Encantada Mall, where parking is going to be doable and A. J.'s market is full of delicious possibilities. Walker's Shortbread is available just about everywhere, as are the Danish butter cookies and even gingerbread houses (at Costco and other outlets). You might want to think this over when next you are tempted by beautiful photographs of all kinds of things. I have, and since I can visit Sprouts quite easily after church every Sunday because I pass right by their Speedway and Swan location, I believe that I will be guided more by what I need this year than what I am stimulated to want by pretty catalog food.

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