On a recent rainy weekend my husband and I were ready for an adventure. We were actually thinking about going to the local Farmer’s Market but with the rain we thought better of it. We then thought we should go do some errands we had been putting off. One of the errands was to look for small serving/snack bowls we could use in our home for just right portions for toppings and snacks. This led us to think about going to our local Asian Market & Grocer. Admittedly, not every town will have an Asian market yet it is surprising how many do. We had to drive to another city, which was only 20 minutes away.
It is a big Asian market. It is called Pacific Ocean Market (POM). It is really big with many items to choose from. We found the small serving/snack bowls we were looking for at a very reasonable price. Then we went to the fresh food part of the market. We were wowed.
It is amazing the different kinds of exotic fruits and vegetables we found. There were also familiar items, like eggplant, that come in all sorts of different sizes and colors than what you will find in a typical U.S. grocery store. We were awed by the variety available just in types of eggplant. There are white ones, long skinny purple ones, green ones, a purple and white striped variety, the big kidney shaped kind and then the small round purple type I was already familiar with from my days in the Peace Corps in Central Africa.
Not to be overwhelmed with all the choices we decided to pick two “new” vegetables for dinner. We decided on the small, round purple eggplant (we know it as Japanese eggplant) and a Chinese variety of broccoli, which is much leafier with smaller florets. Our menu was a grilled boneless pork loin chop with grilled Japanese eggplant and sautéed Chinese broccoli with a hint of balsamic vinegar. It was delicious!
To encourage others to try out a nearby Asian Market (or any other ethnic market near you) here are 6 reasons to go for it:
- Great alternative to a Farmers Market. It is amazing the variety of produce and meats you can explore. If you have ever watched the Food Channel you’ll love an Asian market with duck feet, pork belly along mushrooms and melons you have never seen before.
- Makes for a fun adventure any time of year, even when it is cold or rainy or snowy outside. With all the colors of produce, variety of meats and the smells from the bakery you are guaranteed hours of discovery.
- Can be cheaper. Asian markets can be a lot like a Costco. Things are bundled in big quantities at appealingly low prices. I got a couple of meals out of the vegetables I bought for just a few dollars.
- Can introduce you to new favorites. The smaller eggplants we found to be less bitter than the American variety we usually buy and that was with the skin still on! And the leafy Chinese broccoli was more flavorful and delicate than what we buy at our standard grocery store. We plan on both of these vegetables becoming a regular food in our diet.
- Can get you out of a recipe rut and reinvigorate you sense of fun with food. We asked people around us at the Asian grocery store how they would recommend preparing the vegetables we bought. It got us excited to try something new and now we have a new recipe we can add to our stable of ideas for easy dinners.
- A way to learn about other cultures and food traditions. You can often find recipes on the ethic grocery store’s website as well. Getting input from others at the store makes taking on the risk of something new manageable and often super easy. The internet allows you to not only find recipes but learn more about the culture that commonly uses the food.
Being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is full of fun and adventure. Next time you have the chance, check out an ethnic market near you.
Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!