March 26, 2016
I went in for a bottle of Chiangking vinegar, some shrimp paste, some quail eggs and some brown rice. I walked out with four bags and my checking account $75 lighter.
I love the international food market.
Needed to go to Memphis one day this week, so I decided to work a few additional stops into my agenda. I needed the aforementioned vinegar, shrimp paste, quail eggs and rice, and I figured I was due a shoe-shopping expedition. Germantown Parkway was calling my name.
Because in a six-block span of what is arguably the busiest shopping boulevard in Memphis, one finds Marshall’s, Steinmart, and the Cordova Farmers Market, aka the International Market.
Got the shoes out of the way first; I’m shod for Easter now. Then it was time for the market, a big supermarket type store with aisles dedicated to Latino, Asian and other cuisines, as well as a massive produce department and a sizeable meat and seafood department. Obviously, I could not go straight to the few things I needed; no, I needed to browse first. In instances like this, I lose my hunter instinct and become a gatherer.
(Seriously. I bought shoes in 15 minutes. I spent an hour and a half in the market. This has to tell you something about my priorities.)
First, I had to lust after the produce, and quietly bemoan the fact I’d stocked up on produce earlier in the week at Kroger. Because, while Kroger has a good produce department, this one beats it all hollow on both variety and price. Five different kinds of pears. At least eight different kinds of bananas, and about that many kinds of potatoes. All the fresh herbs in the world. More greens that I know how to name. Beans and peas and beets and exotic things like nopales and jackfruit and other stuff I had to read the sign to see what they were. Every mushroom known to modern man. I regretfully limited myself to some Chinese chives, a bag of key limes, a bag of lemons and some bean sprouts.
Found my brown rice, at a much better price than the grocery, where brown rice is three times the price of white. (And they have to do less to it. Go figure.) And then I was in to the condiments, which is where I lost all restraint.
I was not far from out of rice vinegar. The only soy sauce I had was dark soy; no light, so grab some of that. Out of sambal oelek. Oooohhh, there’s a bottle of Scotch Bonnet hot sauce; must grab that for my Guinea Pig, an aficionado of hot stuff. Shrimp paste, which was called for in some recipe I was thinking about making a couple of weeks ago. Fish sauce, because I’m running low. Mirin, because ditto.
Two different balsamic vinegars, one raspberry and one fig. Coconut milk, because it’s half what I pay at the grocery. Pho base. Tom yum base. Frozen maduros, because we’ll have Cubanos after Easter with leftover ham.
Oh, and the quail eggs. An 18-pack, hardboiled the next day, a dozen of which are presently swimming in an Asian themed brine of rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha and water. The other six are awaiting a robe of sausage and a bath in the deep fryer to become Scotch eggs.
And damned if I didn’t realize when I pulled it out of the cabinet that I was low on sesame oil and should’ve stocked up on that as well.
I did not even walk down the dry goods aisles, where you can score a nice tea set or a bamboo steamer or a wok. Though, come to think of it, I could use a steamer. Nor did I visit the meat or seafood aisles, nor the frozen food, with the exception of walking down the Asian frozen food section en route back from the quail eggs. They have a sizeable selection of imported beer, which I also didn’t peruse, because I have beer in the fridge. And I withstood the temptation to make a dent in the cheese selection, because, cheese.
I really should make a monthly or so trip over to the market. I cook enough Asian stuff to make it worthwhile. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want to go with me? That way I won’t be the only one splurging on more than I have room to put away.