Friday, July 17, 2009

BOX SHOPPING

We made a visit to a wonderful new Asian grocery today, and came home laden with boxes and jars and frozen items, as well as quite a few fresh vegetables. The white mushrooms (can't find a pic online, and clerk couldn't name them for me) were a huge tender stem, with just a small blossoming top. We'll be having those as a little side dish, just to try their own flavor before mixing with other items another time.

We watched the busy shoppers bagging up burdock---I've seen it grow down South, but these were yard-long thin shoots, apparently limited only by the dimensions of their shipping box. There were greens aplenty, and several that I wanted to ask if they were for cooking as a dish, or herbs for flavoring another dish. The great stacks of boxes held baby bok choy, broccoli rabe, tiny pickling cucumbers, the shiniest of scallions whose ROOTS were even white and thick and pretty.

There were the fanleaves of all sorts of greens, and I was struck by the jewelly loveliness of the tiny turnips and daikons still attached to the neat sheaves, like dangly earrings on a deb. The slenderest of lavender eggplants, others of a mottled stripey pale green; small melons and limes and bunches of what looked like the daffodil sprouts punctuating our back garden---all were just sitting there, no refrigeration, just being gathered up as a daily fresh-shopping excursion which must occur for more families here than I realized.

We loaded up on a gallon of soy sauce, which I decant into a bottle for storing in the fridge door; big can goes into the cool storeroom. Jars and bottles of oyster sauce, aji mirin, sambal oolek, rice wine vinegar, coconut milk; fresh udon, a couple of packs of VERY firm tofu for the mapo another evening, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, a pack of frozen squid as a surprise for Chris, who LOVES them dusted with cornstarch and sizzled just a few seconds in peanut oil. I've never actually CLEANED any, but I figure it can't be harder than catfish. And these looked so nice, just 2" little fellows, lined up so symmetrically in their little styrofoam bed with their wee grabbers all curled up like pink babytoes.

And the small tentacles reminded me of Lee Ann Roripaugh's poem of striking genius, with words and images arranged so artfully as to give life to a frozen mollusk:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/11024._Octopus_in_the_Freezer_

Amazing.

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