Mochi & Rice Noodles (aka: A Visit to the Asian Supermarket)

Asian Food Shopping ListDon’t you just hate it when you are planning to make pad thai, but you’ve run out of rice noodles? Or when you are seriously craving a steaming bowl of chow fun, but you don’t like to pay high restaurant prices? For me, there is only one logical solution to problems like these. A trip to my friendly neighborhood Asian supermarket.

Okay fine, these days, you can often find a lot of great ingredients for Asian cooking at your local chain supermarket. And really, there is no Asian supermarket in my neighborhood. But I am always happy to have an excuse to drive 30 minutes across the city to shop at one.

Shopping at the Asian market is a very different experience from shopping in a typical American chain grocery store. Although you can find a number of familiar products, you can also find many foods which you’ve probably never seen or tasted.

Dragon Fruit at Asian Market

Dragon Fruit, anyone?

Jack Fruit at Asian Market

Just how does one eat Jack Fruit, anyway?

Yummy Frogs at Asian market

Froggies? Is this a grocery store or aquarium?

Foods are also packaged or presented differently. For example, the fresh fish looks like – well, like fish, instead of the pre-boned and filleted slabs we are accustomed to buying. fresh fish And if you prefer your seafood very, very fresh, you may find tanks teeming with live fish and crustaceans – or even, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, live frogs. Yum-yum.
Fresher seafood

The prices at the Asian supermarket are generally quite reasonable, especially for seafood and produce. But it is easy to go overboard and spend more than you had intended. For example, just yesterday, my kids and I went shopping with a nice little list of foods, but also ended up buying several types of mochi, a ton of ramen noodles with cool flavors, shrimp chips, and chicharrones (wait…what?). And then, upon leaving the store, we could not help but stop at the café and load up on hot dim sum (which my 12 year-old ordered in the Mandarin language).

Lots and lots of Mochi

Mochi Heaven (This time, we bought mango, red bean, lychee, and hami melon)

Naturally, our menu for this week is filled with delicious Asian meals and snacks – thai curry, miso soup, stir-fries, spring rolls, and my personal favorite – pad thai with shrimp. Nope, no frogs for us. At least, not this time.

14 responses to “Mochi & Rice Noodles (aka: A Visit to the Asian Supermarket)

  1. Looks like a wonderful gastronomical adventure. One of the things I loved about living in Mexico, and, to a lesser extent, Jamaica, was the local markets – fresh meat, seafood and produce (although the fresh cows’ heads, with hair still on the ears, were difficult to stomach). And this type of “real life” experience is so great for the kids, way better than living vicariously through the screens of their iPhones and iPads, where they don’t get the scents and the textures and the richness of the real experience!

    • Yuck…no, I’m not sure I could stomach fresh cows’ heads, either. 😛 I think the fresh meat and seafood is great, but in truth, the idea of talking to the butcher to ask for something in particular really intimidates me. There were many people waiting to order their meat at the market, but I have never tried it. Basically, if it requires me opening my mouth, I just keep walking.

      I agree that the real life experience is great for the kids, so that they can really understand how their own culture is not the only culture; that there are many ways of thinking and doing things which are equally valid. Living life vicariously through computers is not really living at all. It’s more like being a ghost, watching everyone else live their lives.

  2. The inner linguist within may perhaps appreciate this – the video may be more enjoyable (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115817/stephen-fry-responds-grammar-pedants) but here’s the text 🙂

    “For me, it is a cause of some upset that more Anglophones don’t enjoy language. Music is enjoyable it seems, so are dance and other, athletic forms of movement. People seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words these days. Words, it seems belong to other people, anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed.

    The free and happy use of words appears to be considered elitist or pretentious. Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people’s usage and in which they show off their own superior ‘knowledge’ of how language should be. I hate that, and I particularly hate the fact that so many of these pedants assume that I’m on their side. When asked to join in a “let’s persuade this supermarket chain to get rid of their ‘five items or less’ sign” I never join in.

    Yes, I am aware of the technical distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, and between ‘uninterested’ and ‘disinterested’ and ‘infer’ and ‘imply’, and all the rest of them, but none of these are of importance to me. ‘None of these are of importance,’ I said there – you’ll notice – the old pedantic me would have insisted on “none of them is of importance”.

    But I’m glad to say I’ve outgrown that silly approach to language. Oscar Wilde, and there have been few greater and more complete lords of language in the past thousand years, once included with a manuscript he was delivering to his publishers a compliment slip in which he had scribbled the injunction: “I’ll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whiches etc.” Which gives us all encouragement to feel less guilty, don’t you think?

    There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.

    The worst of this sorry bunch of semi-educated losers are those who seem to glory in being irritated by nouns becoming verbs. How dense and deaf to language development do you have to be? Hm? If you don’t like nouns becoming verbs, then for heaven’s sake avoid Shakespeare who made a doing-word out of a thing-word every chance he got.

    He TABLED the motion and CHAIRED the meeting in which nouns were made verbs. I suppose, new examples from our time might take some getting used to: ‘He actioned it that day’ for instance might strike some as a verbing too far, but we have been sanctioning, envisioning, propositioning and stationing for a long time, so why not ‘actioning’? ‘Because it’s ugly,’ whinge the pedants. It’s only ugly because it’s new and you don’t like it. Ugly in the way Picasso, Stravinsky and Eliot were once thought ugly and before them Monet, Mahler and Baudelaire. Pedants will also claim, with what I am sure is eye-popping insincerity and shameless disingenuousness, that their fight is only for ‘clarity’. Oh, this is all very well, but there is no doubt what ‘Five items or less’ means, just as only a dolt can’t tell from the context and from the age and education of the speaker, whether ‘disinterested’ is used in the ‘proper’ sense of non-partisan, or in the ‘improper’ sense of uninterested. No – no, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water. Nor does the idea that following grammatical rules in language demonstrates clarity of thought and intelligence of mind.

    Having said this, I admit that if you want to communicate well for the sake of passing an exam or job interview, then it is obvious that wildly original and excessively heterodox language could land you in the soup. I think what offends examiners and employers when confronted with extremely informal, unpunctuated and haywire language is the implication of not caring that underlies it. You slip into a suit for an interview and you dress your language up too. You can wear what you like linguistically or sartorially when you’re at home or with friends, but most people accept the need to smarten up under some circumstances – it’s only considerate. But that is an issue of fitness, of suitability, it has nothing to do with correctness. There no right language or wrong language any more than are right or wrong clothes. Context, convention and circumstance are all.

    I can’t deny that a small part of me still clings to a ghastly Radio 4/newspaper-letter-writer reader pedantry, but I – I fight against it in much the same way I try to fight against my gluttony, anger, selfishness and other vices. I must confess, for example, that I find it hard not to wince when someone aspirates the word ‘aitch’.”

    • Well put. I can picture Mark Twain applauding Stephen Fry. To sum it up, the richness and enjoyment of language should be placed at a higher value than getting caught up in the rules of grammar, punctuation, and pronounciation. Originality of thought and expression should be more highly prized than simply reading and repeating the words of another. I agree with this, but only to a degree, especially in terms of verbal communication.

      When a person is communicating verbally, but they choose to use a form of language that is superfluous, then several thoughts immediately come to mind:

      1. This person has Asperger’s Syndrome or some other form of autism spectrum disorder, and so is unable to code switch from formal English to casual English in their everyday speech.

      2. This person cares more about the sound of their own words than about effectively communicating with people, which is, of course, pretentious and ridiculous.

      3. This person does not have a full command over the English language and therefore lacks the more casual vocabulary used by most English-speakers.

      Stephen Fry mentions that people who use English in such a way may be distrusted or disliked. Perhaps, if they more closely resemble number 2. 😉 I love to read fresh and creatively written words. But if a person is speaking to me using formal language and superfluous words, then I certainly had better be their boss or English professor, or I just may assume that the person has a superiority complex and is attempting to show off.

      >

      • There’s a law partner I used to work with who speaks in an extraordinarily supercilious, pretentious manner. At all times. Even in the most casual settings. The sentences that pour forth from his mouth are fluent and precise, and obviously preplanned. And he never hesitates to let anyone and everyone know that he’s fluent in French and Spanish as well, lived in Paris, worked in Argentina, went to Harvard, worked at a big New York firm, etc.

        When we go to a restaurant for lunch, he walks in and says “Greetings, we have a reservation for …” He regularly peppers his dialogue with Latin phrases as well. And he even explained to me that he endeavors to speak with no particular inflection, accent or trace of dialect.

        It’s incredibly annoying. Except that there’s a reason for all the effort he invests in his proper and precise use of language and his prolific display of vocabulary: he’s black. He speaks that way because he doesn’t want people to think he’s “ghetto” or unintelligent or uneducated. He doesn’t want people to judge him as undeserving of the prestige of partnership, or to think of him as a token minority. He speaks as he does to compensate for the perceived shortcomings associated with his race and the stereotypes he seeks to overcome.

        I empathize with the cultural and linguistic burden he carries on his shoulders.

      • Hilarious! I wonder how he’d talk around me. 😉 The only people I have ever know who spoke that way all the time were a guy I knew in high school and another in college, both Aspies (people with Asperger’s Syndrome). Totally forgivable in that case, because I know that it is just a part of being on the autistic spectrum for some people. But as for your acquaintance, well, it would bother me. And perhaps, since I’m black and all, it’s the kind of thing that would be less awkward for me to mention than for someone who is not black. I’d be like, “Dude, chill. Talk like an earthling.” Hahaha! 😀

        Seriously, though, I understand his burden. I’ve been in a number of my own uncomfortable situations, in which I was the token black person. Mostly I don’t mind, because I’m kind of used it. But sometimes, it can feel as though there is pressure on my shoulders to be a little less laid back than usual, and more alert about my diction and how I present myself, because there are so many unfortunate stereotypes which I have to negate, and maybe I am the only person in that situation who will succeed in doing so. See, world? Not all black people are (fill in the blank). See how educated and intelligent and peaceful some of us are?

        And it’s not only black people. My ex-husband’s father’s family came from Mexico during a time when there was heavy discrimination against Mexican immigrants. So their family changed the Spanish names of my ex-FIL and all his siblings to Anglicized versions, and made all the kids speak English only, so as to better assimilate to the culture here. Basically, his father grew up with his back turned to Mexican culture — didn’t pass it on to his kids, never spoke Spanish, etc., and saw it as something to be ashamed of. It was only recently, in his advanced age, that he had begun to study Spanish again and embrace some parts of that lost culture. I guess it’s because now our culture (at least here in Cali) has at last evolved to a place where embracing your family’s subculture can still fit with society’s image of the educated, upper middle class American.

        On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 1:10 PM, The Girl From Jupiter wrote:

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    • Also wanted to add that, as a language lover, I, like Stephen Fry, have to constantly struggle to keep from clinging to the idea that there are right and wrong ways to present the English language. On the inside, even I get stuck on the importance of following the rules of language, grammar, and syntax; especially when it comes to people whom I consider to be “intelligent enough to know better.”

      But it is silly of me to judge anyone for how they choose to use English, especially considering that even I have a tendency to lapse into Valspeak, or clutter my writing with ellipses and broken grammar rules (like many fiction writers), or that there are still many English words which I pronounce incorrectly, only because I have only ever come across them in books. How do you pronounce scythe? Sieve? Pedantry?

  3. Ah yes, words from books that I have my own little mental way of pronouncing. The worst was “melancholy,” which I pronounced in my head as “mel-ON-cho-leee,” with an emphasis on the second syllable and a soft “ch” sound LOL 🙂

  4. There’s been an embarrassment of riches in the soccer world recently: there was the AC Milan-Juventes game that was wonderful, such great passing and ball control, great chances for Kaka, and Robhino and Balotelli always creating space out of nothing and making great through balls, plus Tevez scored a phenomenal goal; the Sunderland-Man City fixture was fantastic, with Yaya Toure’s phenom strike; the Atletico Madrid Champions League game was great too, with a fantastic pass from Balotelli to set up their lone goal, and another phenom goal from Diego Costa – the way that he launched himself to get a toe on the cross, and landed full out on his backside, was really quite unusual; Roma-Juventus was another great one; the Barca-Man City tie also did not disappoint – Yaya Toure played a wonderful chip to David Silva, who back-healed for a great chance in the penalty area for Nasri. It’s great to see so many players playing at such an incredibly high level! 🙂 I supposela it’s called the beautiful game for a reason :).

    • Sorry I missed so many great moments in soccer. I’ve always enjoyed watching how Kaka and Robinho play, too, and I really wanted to see Barcelona humble the evil Manchester City (haha). But sadly, I had to go to class, and study for midterms, and have had little opportunities to watch any good matches. But tomorrow’s Chelsea match should be good, and then I hope to watch the Sounders game, because I really want to make an effort to get back into supporting MLS soccer. I’m glad you found the time to watch some great matches, though. 🙂

      On Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM, The Girl From Jupiter wrote:

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  5. Well, let’s see, Marcus has been vomiting with a fever of 102+ since Sunday. The doctor says it’s a virus and he’s vomiting blood because he ruptured a blood vessel in his stomach from all the vomiting. Sounds kind of circular to me :). I got the virus too, but in milder form – sore throat, mild fever, good excuse to stay home and read in bed and take care of Marcus! 🙂

    It’s beautiful, sunny weather here in Texas, and the soccer field near my work is drying out, so soon I’ll be able to go over there at lunch and soak in the sunshine 🙂 :).

    Oh yes, I had forgotten about the South Africa v. Brasil friendly – it didn’t look like Neymar was trying too hard, and it would have been nice to see South Africa score a goal, but still nice to watch the beautiful game 🙂

    • Ugh, that sounds awful! 😦 Poor kid! (And you, too). I’d heard that there was a nasty new strain of norovirus circulating this season. And it’s the worst when all you can do to fight it is rest and wait for it to pass.

      It’s been nothing but sunny here, too. Good for outdoorsy stuff, bad for the drought conditions. I haven’t been outdoors much except bike rides to school or the store, although today we finally planted about half of our garden. So now I have some more motivation to leave the house – daily watering and weeding. 🙂

      I had no idea about the friendly. :/ Too bad…I enjoy watching Brasil, even though they’ve really gone downhill in the past four years. Now the USA is only six places behind them in the rankings. (Hooray!) Also missed the last two Man U matches, but I’ve been rooting for my 2nd fave, Chelsea, and making good on my goal to try and get back into MLS.

      Right now, however, I am putting my computer education into practice, as my laptop is having a crisis today. So I have been spending hours troubleshooting and backing up files. Fun, but not really, because I have a lot I need to do on that computer. Thank goodness we have another! And once I can save enough money, I plan to build a new one, mostly for gaming, and have my teen assist, so that he can learn something.

  6. Wow, building a new computer sounds like an absolutely fantastic project, and learning-by-doing is such a great way to learn!!! 🙂

    The garden sounds great too 🙂

    • Yeah, I think it will be a great project. But first, we really have to save, because I want to build a decent system. For now, it is only an idea.

      The garden is going well, too. It’s not very big, but it is more than twice as large as my old garden, and the nice thing is that my plants will actually get full sun – something we sorely lacked before. 🙂 I like our community garden, too. It’s in a pleasant, peaceful location, and it’s almost always empty. Maybe that will change, though, as the weather warms and more people show up to plant.

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