A few days ago, I got my first paycheck from my new job. It is an odd feeling to receive a paycheck after over four years as a server, and an even weirder feeling to never have cash in my wallet when I was used to having wads of ones. But I am very pleased. Mind you, I am still only in the 30 day probationary period, so it is not a crazy large paycheck, but it is a beautiful thing regardless. After being unemployed for two months, I feel incredibly lucky to wake up, go to work, enjoy my job, go home and get paid. It’s a wonderful process.
To celebrate this landmark in my employment (first paycheck yay!), I decided to splurge. Shopping trip! But, come on now, it’s me, so we’re not going to the mall. We are going to a grocery store. And this is an epic grocery store. I am in awe of this grocery store. In awe and overwhelmed. H and I were driving home from Metro Pizza (awesome pizza by the way) the other night and I noticed a large warehouse at the corner of Tropicana and Decatur. The sign on it read International Marketplace and I was instantly curious. After looking it up on Yelp, I easily made the decision that I would be going there soon. So I made plans with the parents and met them after work at International Marketplace.
I know that Asian stores freak some people out. I know some people see ducks hanging in the window and bags of tiny, dried fish, and run the other way. For those of you, avert your eyes. This is not a place for you. But for my fellow foodie freaks who get excited by the amount and assortment of fish they can cram into a can, and happily overwhelmed by the sheer volume of pickled randoms, this will be your haven.
From the outside, International Marketplace looks like a foreign Costco. But once you enter, it is as if you have walked in to an entirely new world. My biggest piece of advice before you cross the threshold into this alien universe is know what you are going in for. Like with any grocery store, obviously, don’t shop hungry, but shop curious. I wouldn’t praise this store for its organization or its particular sense of cleanliness, but the array of canned, jarred, and dried foods from various countries is really quite extraordinary. I was confronted by a wall of olive oils; I was amazed by pickled and refrigerated items of every color; I was astonished by a large fridge full of every size and assortment of kimchi; and I was intrigued by the stacks of uncooked duck balut. I reminisced with my dad about his days as a child in the Philippines as he held up a package of Pilipit (a glazed rice flour pastry, similar to a twisted donut), and then I laughed at him as he tried to convince my mom that they needed a massive new stainless steel steamer pot. It was all in all a good experience. So, $80 and a $10 membership card later, we left the store with a wonderful assortment of items. In my basket is Perciatelli (similar to a spaghetti noodle, only it has a hole in the middle) from Italy, Guinness flavored whole mustard seeds, several bottles of different vinegars and spicy sauces which, for the most part, are of Asian descent, lychee jelly snacks, semolina flour, curry powder, and a couple culinary tools. I managed to snap a picture of some of the goodies. Thus, the moral of the story is to be brave! Go into that random international store that you’ve been curious about, buy those random ingredients, and cook!