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Grocery Shopping a La La

One of the treasures about living in LA is that there are neighborhoods where I can go and be the only caucasian in the store, walking up and down isles looking at things on the shelf I have no idea what they are. Its almost like a dream state where you struggle to move but can't, where you think at any moment the writing on the package will transform itself into something you can understand, and you will pop like a bubble into a new state of awareness.

 

Never happens.

 

Yet I leave with several bags containing a variety of things that border on the familiar. This is my recent notion of adventure...now to get into the kitchen and try them out!

Okay so what do I have here.... a package with about five different kinds of fishcake, some fried, some a multi roll of pink and white. That goes into the frig for a pot of soup that I'll make with the package of fresh raman (it never occured to me that raman could be had fresh, and not dried out into a wavy block wrapped in cellophane). Then the more exotic rice wine lees, or kasu, which I am going to use to make kasu fish, they had black cod at the market, so that will keep marinated for about two days in a mixture of the rice wine lees, some mirin and some soy sauce, and added sugar. One thing I learned from the Japanese students who used to live with me is that there is nothing Japanese that isn't improved with sugar. I thought Americans were sugar addicts...we are a distant second to the Japanese, especially northern Japan.

And then I bought some pre made tea sandwiches made with that very very soft pasty white bread which enveloped a curry croquette ( I think its really a curry potato pancake) some thin sliced tomato a little lettuce. Very interesting. Taste was okay.

Even though I wasn't going to get stuff that needs to be fried, how could I pass up on the gyoza? I am imagining the the end of the day being rewarded with the warm sizzle of the doughy crust and the juicy insides of pan fried gyoza. To hell with the calories. There it goes into the freezer sitting a top a mound of packaged spinach....Guess what will get eaten first.

Finally I bought a Japanese cake, this one is called a baumkuchen, (very Japanese name isn't it) I guess because it looks like the rings of a tree, a bunch of rings of cake with a very, very thin filling in between. Japanese cakes always seems too expensive for what they are, but never the less I buy it hoping that its a matter of my uneducated palate and not the quality of the cake. And besides, cake is cake, and that never goes bad around here.

So back home here I am contemplating what to cook next, as the warm light of the sun fades on another sunday in which I have successfully avoided any form of excercise, just to prove that I can torture myself with guilt about eating.

Bon appetit

CEOtoo CEOtoo 46-50, F 1 Response Apr 6, 2008

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Great post! Living here in San Diego, we too have several ethnic markets that cater to ingredients for cuisine from this part of the world or that. I'm vegetarian, so sometimes those mystery packages are a bit daunting but I manage to work my way through things. Sometimes I'll simply ask other shoppers to help me out and usually find people eager to assist. Most of the Asian markets have huge vegetarian selections due to the influence of Buddhism and that helps as well. :)