Sunday, March 15, 2009

ADVENTURES IN AN ASIAN MALL

**Today, after morning services, Patty and I were escorted through a fairly new market place in Southeast Portland on that city's infamous 82nd St. Our teacher and guide was our beautiful friend Joan, who twenty years ago arrived here from Hong Kong. She is truly an expert and so enjoyed sharing the store experience with us. She had her shopping list along for she frequents this amazing grocery center on a regular basis. The first photo below shows the main entrance which opens into a maze of hallways filled with shops and eateries which includes the huge grocery and kitchenware emporium.

**This second shot shows the inside entrance to the food market. Unfortunately, once we passed through this doorway, I seemed to forget I was carrying a camera!. The store inside is immense, and apparently Sunday afternoon is the most popular time for the nations to gather their families and obtain their groceries for the coming week. We went up and down every aisle in the store and I will have to skip a lot to tell you a little of what we saw.


**All of the Pacific Rim countries are represented in the products on the shelves and stacked on pallets throughout. Passing a huge deli counter we found dozens of noodle products in the midst of the coolers to our left. Egg, Rice, Udon, and spinach noodles in a score of package sizes filled the cooler; these were the fresh noodles and there was a long row of dried noodles of every kind elsewhere. Many soy products were available here too, and exotic beverages, and confections and more.
**The colorful produce corner was clearly a place to obtain various vegetables and fruits, but while a quick glance revealed many familiar items - carrots, lettuce, cabbage, and such, a closer look at all the rest - the majority of what was on display - made it clear that this was not an ordinary American produce department. Here were huge tubs of purple yams, and packaged lotus root, and enormous tubers of every kind, and taro, and other root crops. A dozen feet of mixed "salad stuff" was followed by an equally long section of spices and herbal greenery - mints, basils, anise, fennels, and who knows what else - large bags of bulk bean sprouts, multiple sorts of mushrooms, and a host of tropical-style fruits. Grasses in cello trays, and bamboo shoots, and starfruit, and water chestnuts, and a couple of big tables of other strange and appealing fruits and products beckoned.
**Then we began the rows of canned and bottled goods: a hundred sauces and seasonings, vinegars and mirins, a multitude of pickled items and juices and starters like miso and fish concentrates. All the ingredients for every kind of sushi and soups and seasonings and toppings and seed. Wrappers for Spring Roll and Lumpia, and Pot Stickers in a score of sized and materials. What would be seen in abundance and in many varieties on the regular shelves would be seen again in the cooler sections in fresh varieties and prepared offerings. The frozen section was enormous; every possible food wish could be satisfied there!
**Fubonn's fresh meat section contained every imaginable kind of animal cut from every imaginable animal. I saw parts of domestic creatures that I would not think any American would recognize, let alone considering eating it. Maybe some folk know about tripe, but do you realize what happens to all the other parts of a sheep or pig or cow after the "red meat" has been wrapped and set out for purchase? Most of us don't know, and we don't want to know, but there it all is in the meat market section! Just beyond begins the fish counters. Another eyeful of strange offerings. We can deal with real fish, both whole and in parts, but what about all kinds of shelled creatures from the sea? Shrimp and lobster? OK. Various clams? OK. Sea cucumber? Well... And I'm afraid to describe the available choices further.
**By now you have the idea. Anything considered to be food in the Asian and Pacific nations is probably available in this special store. On thing for sure, shopping there on a Sunday afternoon is a spirited family affair in which everyone expresses their emphatic opinion and the crowds solidly pack the mile of aisles. All in all, I had a wonderful time learning from Joan, noticing many of the rare and special foods I had only seen previously in the pages of my oriental-type cookbooks. Just past the checkout counters, bulky stacks of rice and beans mutely reminded shoppers of the basics of most Asian foods. On the other side a table of "lucky bamboo" made a last appeal at the exit to the mall hallway, and plenty of arrangements were being selected by the patrons.
**Without doubt, I am going back, but on a midweek morning when I can study the products at some length without having to move and move and move again to allow others access to whatever happened to be in front of or behind me today or to let shopping carts and cart drivers pass along to keep their bunch of folk together. (BTW, The only single customers I noticed in any numbers were ancient women of impossible age doing the daily/weekly chore. Believe me, they had the right of way, and knew it!)

**Finally Finishing our walk through the mega-market, we parted with Joan, completed our own shopping by revisiting an area or two, checking out, and putting our purchases in the car. Back inside again, we visited several little shops - a bakery, a tea shop, and a bookstore (all in foreign languages), and looking around in the hallways - before enjoying meat and noodle soup in a small restaurant. I've already started my shopping list. Ya wanna go?
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3 Comments:

At 5:18 AM, Blogger Linda said...

YES! I want to go! This must have been built since we left the area in 1998. I used to shop at Anzen in Beaverton, and thought that was wonderful, but this sounds much more comprehensive. My "Japanese years" (another story and another part of my life) fell during our 20-year stay in Oregon.I LOVE shopping oriental stores.

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger Patty said...

Of course I do!

 
At 6:45 AM, Blogger LoveMercy said...

Sounds like I need to visit Portland... thanks for the posting. - anita

 

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