About a year or so ago, an Asian food market opened in town. I didn't think much of it, only that I had never really been to one, and wasn't sure if it was something I could see myself "using," but, hey, it was nice to have something different in town.
After a few months, I got intrigued, it was snowy out, there wasn't much to do - why not try out the Asian market?! My daughter loved it. There were big fish heads to stare at, lots of pretty green veggies and beautiful packages of just about anything and everything. Of course, I couldn't understand a word , or, well, a character, but I just looked and wandered. It was fascinating. And, I did find some wonderful things - after all, pictures do tell great stories - or, at least give me an idea of what is in the package.
I'm now addicted to aloe juice - it's amazing how it cures my stomach ailments. I love the coconut oils and gels, they do wonders for my skin and hair. I can't live with a REAL Asian pink lady apple - yum! My daughter goes nuts for the giant peas and BIG funny-fruits that I never knew existed! Amazing.
I took another trip there just today. Walking in, on yet, another snowy day, I was greeted by these big, golden and cherry-red paper lanterns, flowers of brilliant colors and beautiful music. I wandered through the veggies and fruits aisles, still trying to figure out what the heck I'm looking at, but, again, no idea. There were the usual perfectly packaged little goodies covered in the most beautiful papers. (And, I have to say, after having resided in Italy for a few years, and knowing all about "goodies in pretty packing," these were stunning!). Then I came across a man who was on a mission. He KNEW what he wanted and he was scanning the aisle with a fierce look. He took his tiny hat in his hand while he pointed to each package. I got curious too, it was almost "catchy" how he was SO determined. "What the heck are these things?!," I asked myself once again. Squinting, with, and without my glasses, I wasn't far, but I had no clue what this little Asian Buddha was admiring. I moved in. It was small, they were small. They were... fish. Dried, refrigerated fish. Little guys. Little eyes. All packed in a little box with clear wrapping and pretty Asian characters all over them. Tons of them. All sizes and shapes, a whole aisle full. Now, in Italy, we used sardines to make lots of sauces and salads, but there was pretty much one version ... not here. The Asian market has lots more options. Of course, I still don't know what to do with tiny, dead, refrigerated fish, but, well, they were packaged so nicely.
I got to the check out line with my regular 5 items. I'm surrounded by a lovely group of Asian men, women and children, speaking in a language that sounds quite pretty. (I only speak English and Italian, but my curiosity for languages is always with me...) The cashier checked out the box of green beans I was purchasing and smiled. I smiled and nodded, thanking her for her approval of my purchase. I didn't get smiles for my other items... Well, one out of four is ok.
After I left I felt a profound sense of gratitude. I had always taken for granted that this market was simply here, in town. Now, however, I am thankful, grateful. I get to learn about an amazing culture, right in my own backyard.
A few Etsy finds... reminders of today's visit: