I was inspired to write this post after my recent trip to the Asian store, H-Mart. It started when I was craving my favorite food, potstickers, so my husband, my friend, and I, made the 40-minute drive to satisfy our longings. We were extremely successful.
I always enjoy going to H-Mart because every time I go, I discover something new. There are always exotic fruits and vegetables to try, live sea food, teas, and snacks. It is also a great experience to go somewhere just slightly out of my comfort zone. Not to say I do not feel comfortable there, but rather, as one who has not traveled far from home, I have decided it is a good way to step into another culture as best I can.
H-Mart is full of people who do not look like me, and sometimes who speak languages I cannot identify. While there are many lessons to gain from this experience, my take-away is that trying something new gives perspectives that cannot be gained from reading about it in a book, or worse, a textbook.
Another thing I noticed was that you can see a surprising amount of culture just from going to an ethnic store. For example, many Americans eat the same basic fruits over and over: banana, apples, and oranges being the most common, attesting to the fact that most americans are nutrient defficent. However, not only is the fresh produce section at H-Mart enormous, but it is also filled with many different kinds of fruits and vegetables that change with each season. Most of these are offered for very low prices, suggesting that fresh produce is a large part of this culture.
Eventually, we made it to the pot stickers, which is what I had been waiting for! While they are not as good as homemade potstickers, they are still much more authentic then any you will find at an Americanized Asian diner like Pei-wei, or the frozen section of our superstores.
We also chose a new snack to try: chocolate covered green tea moon pies!Delicious! Another thing I have quickly picked up on is that most other cultures do not consume nearly the amount of excess sugar that Americans do. Therefore, while these moon pies are a dessert, some may find them secondary to a decadent American dessert. I absolutely loved them though!
Finally, I purchased some matcha, a kind of Japanese tea. I have wanted to try matcha for quite some time but have not been able to find it at traditional grocery stores. Matcha is an important part of the Japanese cultures because the Japanese use it in their ceremonies as part of the symbloic experience.
Matcha can be made in two different ways. The kinda of matcha that is prepared for daily drinking is much lighter then the other and is known for it’s energy. It also, carries significant meaning for the Japanese.
Since there are many kinds of matcha, it can be hard to know what to buy. Here is one that I recommend since it is similar to the one I purchased at H-mart.
If you are really serious about making matcha the traditional Japanese way, you can also purchase a matcha bamboo brush here to make rich foamy matcha tea. Totally worth it as this special brush will remove the clumps in your matcha and make it smooth. It also easily whisks your matcha into a beautiful, barista style froth.
A few days later, I stumbled across some chewy orange ginger candies that looked intriguing. I have completely fallen in love with them and they have become some of my favorite candy. They are sweet and spicy, and I find them somewhat soothing. Like the moon pies, they are not as sweet a traditional candy so you do not feel a sugar rush, or feel sickly full after eating them. While I highly recommend them, they are not for the picky or unadventurous eater.
For me, trying new foods is important because it allows me to experience something new. In an age where we have access to so much, why would we limit our selves by staying in our small bubble of what we know? Furthermore, new foods and cultures are one small step in fighting the prejudice that is in all of us.
Your challenge is to try something new this week. Please comment below with a new food, culture, or experience, you have tried recently.