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“Safe haven of sleepless, where the deep fryer’s always on”

June 27, 2007

I’ve been wading around in my brain recently.  I’ve a lot of thoughts and concerns, but i can’t quite land on any of them long enough to figure out what i want (or, in some cases, even why they are bothering me).  So instead i am going to extoll the wonders of ethnic groceries.

It took me some time after we moved here to find any grocey store other than Kroger (and the like).  Frankly, that won’t do.  It’s not that i’m looking for anything fancy – though fancy would be great.  But when there are only two options for soy sauce – Kikkoman and Kikkoman lite – i begin to worry about my cooking prospects.

As you may have guessed from that example, my first plan was to look for an oriental grocery.  I inspected the “grocery” section of the yellow pages, and came away with addresses for 3 Asian Groceries.  One was shut down, but the other two were there, though they were not oriental, but Indian.  Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me that they might be, but it was no less exciting for that.  Really, anywhere where the spices come in pound bags instead of jars, and you can get 10 pounds of basmati rice for 10 dollars is cool with me.  It’s a bit out of my way, so i don’t go regularly, but any time i need to stock up on rice, beans, spices or sauces it’s my first stop.  They have a few British imports like McVitties, too, and for far more reasonable prices than the speacialty tea shop.  I did find a proper soy sauce as well.  I don’t remember the name, but it has a green label and you have to cut the top open.  It is certainly my favorite soy sauce (though it’s not as good on sushi as Kimlan).

But wait!  There’s more!  Sometime in the last six months i finally made it out the the (awesomely yummy) traditional vietnamese restaurant here (another thing i dispaired of finding upon leaving the Big City).  Lo and behold, right next door is a oriental grocery.  All the good canned veg and fungus you need to make a good stir-fry, cheaper tofu than Kroger (cheaper everything, in fact).  And a wide array of sauces and such.  There’s a fish/meat freezer i haven’t made use of (but, then, i don’t much use those sections in any store), and they have a pretty nice, small selection of fresh veg you won’t find elsewhere.  Perhaps most exciting is the availability of bean sprouts.

Oh, but when i say you won’t find fresh and unusual veg elsewhere, i forget the farmer’s market.  Along with all the summery veg you expect to see, there are a number of small booths with a variety of things i haven’t heard of or tried yet.  And the things i have: yard-long beans, bok choi, thai basil plants, and often a good selection of fresh herbs and greens.

All that remains in my (now kind of half-assed) quest is to find a latin grocery.  Overall, i am pleased with my ability to procure most of the things i want to eat or cook with, and i would like to point out that all of the above make for much cheaper shopping than the supermarket.

Lady Brett
“Untouchable Face” – Ani Difranco

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