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Around the World in Four Stores

So, I know I’ve been a bad blogger and not very active. November’s a bit busy of a month for me, with my birthday, mine and Yuuki’s anniversary, Nanowrimo, etc. But it was also made worse by my computer breaking down, a cold we’re still suffering from, the post office hating me, and various other negative things I could have done without.

But today was nicer. One of my friends asked if I’d like to join her on a short adventure through some of the multicultural stores we have around town. With so many refugees and immigrants here, there are quite a few small ones (I admit, I miss United Noodles back home, even if I only got to go once a year or so). Given my interest in, not to mention work with, different cultures, I was excited.

Relying on buses so heavily, especially now that it’s gotten much colder, makes it hard to justify standing out in the cold for up to 20 minutes one way simply to go to a specialty stop. It gets tiring fast, so normally our trips are limited to groceries or Target.

Before it got so cold, I had actually walked to one of the stores, but the other three were new to me. One was a Nepali grocery store, two were a mixture of Nepali/Arabic/African, and one was a Russian store. I bought way too much. I couldn’t help myself. I thought I’d share some of the stuff I managed to pick up.

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I keep a bottle of green tea I finished a long time ago in my office. Just so I can see kanji at work. Yep, I’m officially a geek. I’ve got a membership card.

This was the East Asian stuff I managed to find. The Yuki Senbei and the green tea were the only Japanese things I found (and the big thing of O~i Ocha I actually got at a regular grocery store. The smaller drinks are soy bean, so I’m not sure I’ll like them. But as you may have noticed, I enjoy drinks quite a bit. It’s not exactly uncommon for me to have three different drinks with me depending on my mood.

Yuuki picked out the shrimp crackers and the sugar cane. Yuuki tried the sugar cane already but I’m not sure what to think of it. He said it’s not what he was expecting, but not necessarily in a bad way. The middle candies are ginger and coconut. They look all fancy with a gold stripe and are probably really good except that I hate both ginger and coconut (they’re for my mum, shhh).

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Yuuki could not escape his Japanese-ness, and insisted on buying a ridiculously over-priced box of masks from CVS for his cold.

We also found a daikon. Turned out it had the magical power of turning Yuuki into a samurai.

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This is (mostly) the Nepali stuff I got. I’m excited to eat some of the dishes for lunch at work! You can also see the Pineapple Lassi – I drank the mango one already. It was really good! I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the pineapple one though. Yuuki also was really intrigued by the golden raisins so I got them for him to try. The drink in the back with the plant on it I actually got at the Russian store and put it in the wrong place for the picture, but I’m interested to see what it tastes like. The man at the counter assured me it was good, so it must be, right? There was another one with a picture of a pine cone on it that I wanted to try, but I decided to show some self-restraint and wait until next time.

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And here’s the Russian shtuff! I actually studied Russian for a year and a half, but I don’t talk about it much on here because it’s embarrassing how much I’ve forgotten. Three or four of the staff members I work with speak Russian so I use it brokenly when I can, but I wish I had held onto more of it. Nevertheless, I can still read Russian (even if I can’t understand it all) but I was happy to find those packets in the middle that clearly say soup! My lunches at work will be so much more exciting now. This past week one of my coworkers (who reminds me of my dad) said that my lunch made him sad, that I looked like a homeless person. So now hopefully he won’t have to offer me anymore pizza.

That round tin was Yuuki’s pick – it’s fish in oil. After our last adventures with sardines and herrings I’m a little wary. I also got a lot of candies, and if I’m able to go home for this Christmas, I hope to share them with my Russian teacher. The clerk was kind too and threw in the banana-chocolate candy for free! The only thing I’ve tried so far are in the back, the caramel bread thingys. They are really good! Yuuki thought they were too sweet, but they’d be perfect with coffee. Mmmmm.

Also, to encourage me to wash the rust off of my Russian:

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A Russian magazine! I was so excited to find this. Not to mention, it was only $2.50. This is Russian reading practice that might actually be fun. And I only looked at the date for the first ones I glanced at, all of which were 2012 or so, so I assumed they all were. On the way home I realized the one I chose was actually November 2014. Heck yeah.

There were a couple of other things (including some Polish chocolate bars) I forgot to put in the pictures, but this is the majority of what I got. Unfortunately the main Arabic item I wanted was dates – and they cost more in every store than I was willing to pay for one item. Hopefully next time. So, I only bought one Arabic item and it’s a gift for my little sister (who sometimes reads this blog) so I’ll abstain from saying what it is. Looks tasty though!

It made me happy to find this much variety here. We got some surprised looks in every store we went to, and I got the feeling that not many white people shop there. Actually, one of my sort-of-coworkers mentioned that she wasn’t sure she was welcome or allowed to go. Granted, a couple of the stores have absolutely no English on the outside, and most of them aren’t in the best condition. For the ones that have no English, I agree that it makes me feel a little unwelcome. But most of them do have at least the title of the store in English even if they are a bit rundown – and I feel that’s a sign that they’re open to whoever wants to buy their products. They are a store, after all.

I’ll have to post again if there are some so good (or so bad) it’s worth writing about. For now I’m just happy to liven up our apartment a little, after the past not-so-great month.

I hope all you lovely people are doing well and having adventures!

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4 thoughts on “Around the World in Four Stores

  1. When we lived in San Francisco I loved going to Japantown for groceries. We would always come back with so many things. Of course, they’re much pricier than in Japan, but when you miss it, it’s worth the money sometimes. Now we’re in England we’re struggling to find our favorite Japanese products in the Asian stores here. Sad.

    • Japantown…I hope someday I live where there is such a thing. I’d be poor all the time but that’s nothing new for me.

      Out of curiosity, what is the trend in England’s Asian stores? Where I used to live in Wisconsin it was mostly Hmong, and now where I live in Pennsylvania it’s mostly Nepali.

      Which is awesome, but I miss my Japanese stuff.

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