My Quest for Banana Ketchup

“Shake and shake the catsup bottle. None will come, and then a lot’ll.”
― Richard Armour

Banana Ketchup/Sauce on the shelves at H Mart, Plano, Texas

I’m not sure where, but as I was wasting my precious life surfing the web, I came across a recommendation and link for a condiment I had never heard of before, Sinclair’s Hot Banana Ketchup. I wanted some. I am always up for a new condiment. I like Hot. I like Bananas.

It’s a gourmet craft condiment from the UK, so I was pretty sure I was not going to find any near me. Before ordering any online I did some research and discovered that Banana Ketchup is a thing. It is popular in the Philippines and the story is that it was developed just prior to the second world war due to a shortage of tomatoes.

Oh hell yes… I had to have me some banana ketchup and I had to actually buy it in a store. Because. I was on a quest.

There is a plethora of various ethnic grocery stores in my ‘hood and I set out on my bicycle on a route that included as many as I could. I was sure I would be returning with some Jufram Banana Ketchup in my pannier.

My commuter/cargo bike along the Duck Creek Trail. Taking a break while riding a circuit of grocery stores, looking for Banana Ketchup.

I was shocked when my search came up empty. Internet searching showed there was Kabayan – a Filipino grocery store – in the metroplex. It would have what I wanted, surely, but it is in Lewisville, which is a bit of a drive from me and too far for a casual bike ride. I’ll figure out a reason to visit that part of town, but in the meantime there was one more place I wanted to check.

H-Mart, in Plano, is a fantastic cornucopia of an Asian Grocery Store. It is strongest in Korean fare, but of such a size that it has a lot of different food. I stopped by and, after a bit of a search, found a selection of various Banana Ketchup varieties – at least three brands and a handful of different flavors. I chose two brands of “spicy” – Jufran Hot & Spicy Banana Sauce, and UFC Tamis Anghang Banana Sauce… also tagged Hot & Spicy.

So how does it taste?

I’m afraid it doesn’t taste much different that regular American Tomato Ketchup. Maybe a little sweeter, but not much. Sugar and vinegar are the key taste in ketchup anyway…. The two I bought are definitely Hot and Spicy – next time I’ll try some of the regular style. The only difference really, is that the banana version is more thixotropic even than traditional. It can really vary from thick to watery depending on how much you shake it. It is laden with red food coloring, so it doesn’t look like bananas. One other good thing – it’s cheap.

All in all, it’s good, if not anything special. When I finish what I have I’ll pick up some other flavors, for the hell of it. Oh, and then – maybe I’ll make some of my own.

I’ll leave out the red food coloring.

Advertisements

Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten

Previously in the Nasher XChange series:

  1. Flock in Space, Nasher XChange, Entry One of Ten
  2. X , Nasher XChange, Entry Two of Ten

Charles Long
Fountainhead
Northpark Center, Dallas, Texas

In keeping with my project of going to all ten of the Nasher XChange sites without using a car, after work I rode my commuter bike over to the nearest DART station, locked it up in a Bike Lid, and took the train down to Park Lane station.

I walked across Central Expressway to get to the shopping center. That felt really strange – Northpark is the cold dark center of the Dallas upper crust car culture. Swarms of honking, smoking metal carapaces jammed themselves along the frontage roads while a thick stream clogged the freeway lanes below.

There were other people on the sidewalks, working their way to or from the mall. A thin trickle of what were obviously employees – from retail, cleaning crew, restaurant workers – dishwashers to waiters, all wearing weary uniforms, trudging home or dragging their way to work, shift after shift.

I waited a long, long time for a walk signal, then crossed the penultimate road. I reached the other side and was moving on down the sidewalk when I heard the distinctive squeal of brakes and skidding rubber on concrete. Then came that awful sound of expensive sheet steel rending – a pop and crunch. A thin rancid cloud of burnt tire treat floated by.

I turned and looked into the mass of automobiles to see the horde slowly sorting itself out with the green light. One young man in an old sedan sporting a very fresh dent in the front grille came slowly sorting himself out of the fray, winding from lane to lane until he escaped the traffic. He made a right turn and I expected him to pull over and wait for his victim, but he suddenly accelerated and then, he was gone… like a fart in the wind.

A hit and run.

It was all too fast for me to think. No chance to make a note of a license, I’m not even sure of the color, let alone the model of the car.

While I walked away I saw a shiny Lexus SUV pull over with its back end smashed. A couple of other cars pulled up beside, and a clot of women piled out, all standing on the sidewalk and gesticulating.

I turned and began to cross the vast parking lot into the cavernous mall on foot.

Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Fountainhead
Charles Long
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

Virtual money flowing across the surface of the sculpture. Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Virtual money flowing across the surface of the sculpture.
Fountainhead
Charles Long
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

From the Nasher Website:

Charles Long, a Long Branch, NJ native, currently resides in Mt. Baldy, CA. His sculptures have explored the abstract autonomous art object as a psychological investigation into the nature of self and others and have been made from diverse media such as coffee grounds, rubber and hair from Abraham Lincoln.

For his Nasher XChange commission, Long plans to create an interactive, waterless fountain entitled Fountainhead that extends his ongoing investigation into the viewer/artwork relationship through the use of new technologies. The installation performs every function of a traditional fountain, only virtually.

Projected images of sheets of dollar bills move serenely down the surface of a sculpted monument, flowing like water, instantly adapting to every nook and curve, accompanied by a serene soundtrack scored especially for it. Three kiosks topped with interactive screens face the monolith and offer an opportunity for visitors to donate money to one of the three designated charities, much like the coins tossed into the Trevi Fountain are donated to charity. After payment is tendered, visitors are encouraged to flick a virtual coin off of the screen toward the sculpture resulting in an exuberant splash of dollars going in every direction. The three designated charities were selected by the artist and Nasher Sculpture Center director, trustees and staff.

“In creating this new work for Nasher XChange I was conscious of the social role that sacrifice has played throughout history. In Fountainhead, I sought to encourage the passerby to give up something of value before an anticipating audience. It’s a bit of harmless fun, yet it echoes ancient public sacrificial ceremonies and it seems pertinent to be doing this kind of sacrifice today in this very popular shopping center where visitors have been seeing public art for decades,” said artist Charles Long. “One of my interests as a sculptor has been to play with the image of value and art, and in this work I wanted to see what a massive fountain of money issuing endlessly forth might feel like as a public spectacle. There is decadence, but then there is this social act of giving. I chose charities proximally close to the lives of the participants so that their giving had a more tangible meaning.”

Nasher XChange will extend the museum’s core mission beyond its walls and into Dallas’ diverse neighborhoods, alongside key community partners, to present advances in the rapidly expanding field of sculpture, raise the level of discourse on the subject within the city, and contribute to broader national and international conversations on public sculpture. As the only institution in the world exclusively dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and researching modern and contemporary sculpture, the Nasher Sculpture Center is uniquely positioned to investigate this growing practice of sculpture in the public realm.

Nasher XChange also references the history of the Nasher Collection itself: from the time of its early formation, major works from it were displayed at NorthPark Center, the indoor shopping mall created in 1965 by Raymond Nasher, and that tradition of making museum-quality art available for everyday enjoyment continues today. Millions of people every year have the opportunity to experience this fascinating and significant art located throughout NorthPark Center.

Long has been interested in the intersection between art, sound, and viewer participation since he collaborated with the band Stereolab in the mid-90’s to create sculptures with sound components that could be accessed through headphones. In his latest public art piece, Pet Sounds, Long evolved his ideas as new technological possibilities were developed with a special focus on activating sound through touch.

Long is an internationally exhibited artist with more than thirty solo shows at such venues as Site Santa Fe; St. Louis Art Museum; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Sperone Gallery, Rome; London Projects, UK; and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, NYC. Long has taught at California Institute of the Arts, Art Center College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design, Harvard University and currently is faculty and chair of the UC Riverside Department of Art.

Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Fountainhead
Charles Long
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

I donated five dollars to the North Texas Food Bank. You swipe your credit card, push the button. There's an artificial splash and the  cash projected on the fountain swirls around in a virtual splash

I donated five dollars to the North Texas Food Bank. You swipe your credit card, push the button. The cash projected on the fountain swirls around in a virtual splash

Ad Astra

Northpark Center, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Northpark Center, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Mark di Suvero
Ad Astra, 2005
Painted Steel
48 x 25 feet

Other works by di Suvero in the Dallas area – Proverb and Ave

Pamela Nelson and Robert A. Wilson
Color Equations, 2007
4′ x4′ Placards (aluminum with glossy vinyl Surface

I took the train to the Park Lane station and walked across Central Expressway to Northpark Center to look at one of the Nasher Xchange sculptures there. To walk to Northpark is a subversive act in itself. It is the epitome of car culture, of consumer culture, of upper crust shopping culture.

I felt like I was an alien, a barbarian spy infiltrating a pecunious fortress.

Of course Northpark is more than a mere shopping experience. It is the heart of Raymond Nasher’s real estate empire and the main source of the funds he used to build his incredible collection of sculpture and his museums, including Dallas’s Nasher Sculpture Center. There are some incredible artworks installed in the mall.

So I had to walk around and look at them. It is a very odd and unique setting for some amazing art. To be there looking at sculpture and not toting little bags with designer names or logos on them…. it was surreal.

Ad Astra, Mark di Suvero Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Ad Astra, Mark di Suvero
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

Ad Astra, Mark di Suvero Northpark Center Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Ad Astra, Mark di Suvero
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Sunday Snippets

I always carry a notebook and a selection of fountain pens around with me. I would fill Moleskines up too fast, and could not afford them, so I carry Staples Bagasse composition books that I buy by the stack when they are on sale.

A writing teacher once said that ideas float around in the air like little feathers. If you don’t grab it and write it down right away, it will float away on the breeze. Somebody else will catch your idea. That makes sense – many times I’ve recognized something in print that had floated through my head untouched sometime in the recent past. My idea had escaped and been captured, pinned down on paper, by somebody else. He also said not to safe your ideas – don’t be cheap with them – but go ahead and use them as soon as you can. No matter how brilliant you think they are, there will be more to take their place – and these will be better.

So I work hard at grabbing whatever is at hand, usually my notebook, when the ideas come to me and scribble away. These can take a lot of forms – but today I’m talking about little scenes, what I call snippets. These are not fully formed stories or even coherent scenes, but little pieces of story, culled from experience, memory, and mysterious imagination – all mixed together.

These appear in my head, I write them down, and maybe I’ll use them in a story someday. But, for no reason at all, I think I’ll type a few of them down here.

Keep in mind these are completely raw first drafts – they should not be read by the public, not yet, but it is what it is.

Today, I have four. Two each started by two single objects – shopping carts and bamboo.

First, Bamboo

Men with a hacksaw

I am not generally afraid, even in the big city, and I have spent a lot of time running on the Crosstown Trail without any real fear. But there was that one day, cold and drizzly, with a thick fog rolling in, when I was out there by myself and I began to get a little worried. I came around that bend, you know where it is, where it runs through all that thick brush. It’s like a green tunnel and even though it’s in the middle of the city, it is so quiet and dark it feels like you are out in the middle of nowhere. That’s why I like it so much. But that day…

There were these two guys walking along. They were young and fit, muscular, and menacing. I immediately saw them, luckily before they saw me. They were walking off the trail and when I saw them they were looking into the woods and gesturing. They were looking intently, like they were seeking something or someone. But what really caught my eye is that one of them was carrying a hacksaw – a big, heavy one. It looked like an odd but effective weapon and I realized they were going after something they had spotted in the brush.

I felt my heart skip and a knot pop into my belly and I immediately jumped off of the trail and slid down into this little ditch where they could not see me. Before I left the condo I had decided to leave my phone to charge and so I didn’t have it with me. I hugged the damp, cold earth on the side of the ditch, hoping the two men didn’t see where I was hiding.

I could hear them talking excitedly, but the fog damped the sound and I couldn’t understand. Then, I heard the sawing. It was loud and hollow sounding and my heart kept beating faster and faster. I didn’t hear any screams, so their victim must be dead already. My mind raced with horror as the awful sound kept going. There would be a pause every now and then, and I could hear the men babbling, then it would start back up.

I was about to go crazy with panic when the sawing finally stopped. But then, to my horror, I could hear the footsteps of the men as they walked off and I realized they were going down the trail right towards the spot where I was hidden. When they reached my location, they could look down into the ditch right at me.

As they approached I gathered my feet underneath myself and tried to brace my crouch. My only hope of escape if they saw me was to spring up onto the trail and bolt away as fast as I could. I am a strong runner and hopefully, with the element of surprise, I could escape.

The second I completed my preparations, they were upon me. Now that they were closer, I could understand what they were saying and as I tensed, I heard.

“Oh, these are just perfect.”

“Yes, we can coat them with urethane, not the glossy stuff, it’ll look cheap.”

“And they’ll support the shelves and will have just the look we want.”

I looked up and there the two were. One still had his saw and the other was carrying a load of bamboo under his arms. I remembered, there was a grove of bamboo around the corner… they were cutting bamboo for bookshelves.

There was a loud clatter as the bamboo hit the concrete trail. They had seen me. I was covered with mud and loose leaves from my slide down and must had scared the two men to death to find me crouched in the ditch like that.

There was nothing for me to do but to go on with my plan. I sprung out, stumbled a bit, then picked up speed. I could hear one man screaming as I ran as fast as I could. I looked over my shoulder and saw the other one sprinting to the blue-lighted emergency phone a few feet back down the trail. Why hadn’t I thought about that.

I doubled my speed. Now, instead of racing the two men with the saw, I was trying to get out of there before the cops arrived. I didn’t want to have to explain all that.

Hidden Grove

There is a grove of bamboo off to the side, across a narrow grassy lot, on Peter Scranton’s drive to work. He looked at that bamboo twice a day, about three hundred days a year for fifteen years. “That’s what, about nine thousand times,” Pete said to himself.

Pete had read a book about gardening and the author strongly discouraged planting bamboo because of its unstoppable fecundity and tendency to spread. Once it was in the ground, it was impossible to stop.

The stand that Pete saw would advance a little across the vacant lot, but then retreat. Pete would see bright yellow shoots sprout up with amazing speed. These would always disappear in a few days. Someone unseen was hacking the vegetation back.

One day his car blew a head gasket in a cold rain – rapidly clattering to a steaming stop. He was so discouraged he found himself abandoning the useless old wreck and striding across the little vacant lot. When he reached the familiar stand of bamboo he pushed the strong but yielding stalks apart and buried himself.

He watched his car being towed away and his wife and coworkers walking along the road as he peered out of the thick bamboo. After a day, nobody came by any more, though he saw someone he didn’t know stop and nail a poster with a photograph printed on it on a nearby wooden power pole. He supposed it was a picture of himself, though he didn’t recognize it.

When he was thirsty he found he could bent the bamboo stalks and get a little water to run into his mouth. After the first day he was hungry, but after three days the hunger left him. He watched the new shoots come up in the lot and when the workmen came to cut them back they spotted him lurching around back in the grove, making the bamboo sway, even though there was no breeze.

They had to cut most of the grove down to flush him out. They took Pete away for observation.

Within a season, the bamboo had grown back. You couldn’t tell that anything had happened there.

Next… Shopping Carts

Carts in the Pond

Sometimes, when the weather was warm, he liked to sit beside this little pond in a park near his house. The bank all around the pond was steep but there was a spot where a tree had died and left a flat area ringed by a rock wall that was a particularly comfortable place to sit.

He was sitting there looking across the pond where a sidewalk ran when he spotted a couple of teenagers pushing a shopping cart. There was a grocery store a block away and he could see a single shopping bag in the center of the cart. When they reached the middle of the part of the sidewalk that ran along the pond, one kid reached into the cart and pulled out the bag. The other simply turned the metal cart and pushed it down the steep bank where it hit the water and with a soft hiss, quickly sank beneath the surface. Once it was gone the two kids kept walking, now carrying the bag in their hands. It didn’t look very big.

He was upset at this. He knew the grocery store was losing money and would soon close. The neighborhood would be hurt by the lack of shopping and the image of the big empty box on the corner, the vacant parking lot. Those carts were expensive and those kids were one reason nothing good ever lasted any more.

He thought about yelling something, but they were too far away. He couldn’t even chase them. By the time he rounded the pond they would be long gone. They were too far away for him to even recognize who they were – if he saw them again, he wouldn’t even know it.

So he sat there for a little longer and then walked home. He never went back to the pond again, preferring to stay home and watch television.

Racing With the Wind

Roger and Annette had to rush to the van from the basketball court. Annette ran with her oldest daughter’s hand in her own while Roger carried their young son, barely more than a toddler, in his arms. A huge black angry cloud was building rapidly to the west and the boiling thunderstorm was beginning to kick up a cold fast wind.

As they piled into the van the humid heat of the Texas summer was shoved aside by a blast of cold storm outflow air. The second they settled in, locking the toddler into his car seat and making sure the girl had her belt fastened the wind rose to a howling gale. Dust and leaves rose in a shooting cloud and the van rocked from the power of the wind.

To watch their daughter’s game they had had to park across the street in the lot of a small shopping center. It was anchored by a big hardware store and the wind suddenly began grabbing the hundred shopping carts piled out front and sent them shooting across the lot like rockets, right toward Roger and Annette’s van.

They flew in a wheeled phalanx, upright and racing, some swerving a bit due to a wonky wheel, but most moving with amazing speed. Roger and Annette could do nothing but watch them come. Most were driving in rumbling mass to the south of the van, where they watched them pass, hit the curb, and then tumble out into the street.

A few veered to the left and came close to the van, but thanks to a lucky act of providence, none actually hit them, although some only missed by inches. Roger, Annette, and their daughter sat there helpless, and felt a great relief when the sudden windstorm died down and was replaced by fat, pelting rain. They felt very lucky they had not been hit, though it only would have been a little dent at the worst.

The toddler, of course, thought the whole thing was a blast and laughed as hard as he could as he watched the shopping carts fly by.

A Little Bike Ride

Pack

My old bike. I bought it for sixty bucks at a pawn shop over fifteen years ago.

I’m finally feeling back to my normal mediocre self and Texas is having its handful of decent weather days so I’d like to get some bike riding in. It’s tough during the week because I’m so tired when I get home from work that, even though I might have a few minutes of sunlight, all I can think of is to fall into bed and decompress, even if I don’t fall completely asleep.

Well, in this modern age, you have to try and do double duty in everything. There is no time left – it feels as if it has all been used up. Not only do you have to be doing something all the time, you have to be doing two things if you don’t want to fall further behind. In that spirit, we were out of milk. So I decided to ride my bicycle to the Target Superstore and buy a gallon plus a few other sundries that we were in need of.

That’s doing double duty. Shopping and exercise. It isn’t very far – about a mile, plus no real traffic – I can ride the new trail down to the park and then cut over on a little-used feeder road. Then across the back mall parking lot. Our neighborhood strip of big boxes sits where a big ‘ol traditional mall used to squat. For years it was declining, used more as a foul-weather walking route for elderly folks than as a place to fleece excited shoppers. At any rate, they bulldozed it, leaving the anchor tenants on the end and filling in with a row of familiar warehouse-style establishments. The food court was replaced by a line of fast-food slinging eateries strung along the main road like a string of pearls before swing.

But behind this capitalist extravaganza the huge old mall back parking lot remains empty and immense, used only to give motorcycle lessons on weekend mornings – two-wheeled newbies slowly winding between long groupings of red plastic cones. Today, though, it was deserted except for some guy out in the middle changing his oil, an occasional truck coming in to pull and replace a smelly dumpster, and one pair of isolated cars – probably teenagers hooking up. It’s easy for me to cross this vast desert of asphalt – the only thing to look out for are a few drainage grates with long, wheel grabbing slots, always facing the wrong way – parallel to the direction I’m riding.

There is nothing as stupid looking and pitiful as an old fat man riding a bicycle. I feel so idiotic and silly, but I have had a lifetime of experience ignoring my ridiculousness, so I pedal on.

I had a surprisingly difficult time getting there. It’s a bit of an uphill slog coming up from the creek and then, crossing the lot, I ran into a strong headwind. Off to the west was a black roll of approaching storm cloud and the humid south wind was spinning into the complex, feeding the tempest. Still, I caught my breath, downshifted a cog, and kept on going.

Locking my bike and backpack to a steel bench out in front (the nice thing about having a fifteen year old piece of crap bike is that I don’t need the highest security lock) I went in to get my gallon of milk and other stuff. I noticed that once I stopped pedaling and started walking around the cool store, my shirt became spotted in sweat. I looked extra stupid amongst other, car borne shoppers. The Next time, wear a dark t-shirt – mental note.

So I stuffed my gallon of milk into the backpack (it fit easier than I expected) and headed home. I guess I underestimated the wind, because I was able to get almost all the way back without even turning a pedal – propelled by the brisk breeze at my back.

Buoyed by my success, I made a list of close in destinations I could ride my bike to. Along this route, there is the big box variety/grocery store, two hardware stores, a couple of Pho places, tons of fast food, an office supply store, and a haircut place. The other way is the big Vietnamese shopping center – and I can get there without leaving the trail. If I want to go a little farther, I can cut through an industrial area and get to the DART rail station, library, and a whole complex of diverse ethic eateries.

Jeez – if the weather was nicer for more of the year I could get rid of the car.

I’m still pretty stupid looking, though.

Shopping Spree

Candy is in New Orleans helping Lee get all his crap back for the spring semester at Tulane so I’m holding the fort down alone (except for the dogs). I was in the shower when the doorbell went off (as it always does). There is a bunch of stuff (video games, clothes) that various kids have left in our house over break and they need to pick their crap up before they leave for school so I scurried out, threw on some dirty clothes and went to the door.

There was nobody in person, but a Fedex envelope was leaning up against the door, addressed to me. I wasn’t too happy because I rarely get good news Fedexed to me. This time I was wrong.

I remember a couple of weeks ago at work I received a junk email from some Industrial Trade Magazine. I usually ignore the hundreds of emails like that I get every day, but there was a link to a survey along with the usual “You Might Win” teaser. I had a few minutes to kill before a meeting so I went to the survey and filled that sucker out. I assume you all have done that – bland questions on what kind of equipment you specify and what sort of software services you outsource. I realize that this will generate even more junk emails going forward… but once you get to a certain point it doesn’t make any difference.

So I was pretty happy when I realized that the envelope had a hundred dollar gift card to Target. It said, “Congratulations! Your name has been randomly chosen as 1 of our 3 winners of a $100 gift card from Target in ***** ********’s recent “EAM/ERP” survey.”

Cool!

That did leave me with a minor moral dilemma. I firmly believe that money is money – so that I should add this card to the family fund, like anything else. There is no such thing as “Found Money” and what comes in goes out. There is a Super Target near our house, it has a grocery store, and there is a list of groceries that we need on the refrigerator – eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, sandwich meat, sliced cheese… plenty of stuff.

I should either give the card to Candy when she gets back or, better yet, go to the store and buy the stuff on the list.

But still…. I’m here by myself. I earned this money by my work and good luck. Why don’t I just go out and spend that motherfucker on stuff I want.

I tried to think about what I wanted that they had at Target. There isn’t much, really. Luckily, this wasn’t a gift card to a pen store. I do need a new bike helmet and I’m always up for a new Moleskine… but there isn’t much else I could think of.

So I grabbed the food list off of the fridge and went to Target. I do not like shopping usually, but going to the store like this, with plenty of time and a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, was sort of fun.

I wandered through the electronics and found nothing much that I could afford. Then on to the office supplies and the Moleskine display. It was picked over and they didn’t have anything I wanted.

On to sporting goods. It’s hard for me to find a bike helmet at a mass-market store that will fit my swollen melon – but they did have one model that fit. I had looked at it before. The problem is that it had this fancy flashing light-thing built in and cost, like fifty bucks, which seemed excessive to me for a hunk of Styrofoam. I found that they only had two of these left and that they had been sitting there for so long the little batteries in the lights had gone dead. Because of this, they marked the helmet down to eighteen bucks. Score!

I picked up the helmet, a water bottle from a clearance endcap, a plastic tote that I want to attach to my bike rack, and all the groceries on the list.

I still have forty bucks left on the card. Hmmm, I wonder if some other Target Store in a little less literate neighborhood might still have a pile of Moleskines? I just might go for a little drive.

Super H Mart

I love the Saigon Market near my house, but I have been hearing the virtues of an even larger Asian Market called Super H Mart. It’s in north Carrollton, which is on the other side of the Metroplex from my humble home, but my car gets good mileage and I had some time today, so off I went.

It looks like a Kmart

Super H Mart is a chain, which started on the East Coast. It’s a huge place, with a massive grocery store surrounded by little stores and a long corridor of a food court. The biggest draw is the produce department with an endless assortment of fruits and vegetables… from normal looking peppers to the strangest looking spiky fruits from the far corners of the globe.

The place was packed with shoppers, noisy and active. It’s not very well organized, so you get to walk around a lot looking for stuff. It’s really clean though, and it’s an odd contrast, with the exotic selection presented like a typical American Megamart.

A great selection of Ramune

Of course, like any good Asian market, the seafood section is a treat. The back wall is full of tanks with every sea creature you can imagine. What isn’t swimming around is lined up on rows of aisles of ice. I wandered around looking at the stuff, watching some woman probing a case of blue crabs, watching them jump around, trying to decide if they were active enough.

Are your Abalone fresh?

Fan mail from some flounder?

Saigon Market in my neighborhood specializes in Vietnamese Fare, of course. Super H Mart specializes in Korean Food. I have never seen so much Kimchi in my life. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and big bags of a bewildering array of different kinds of fermented goodness – whole head cabbage, napa cabbage, radish, and many more that I didn’t really understand.

Jars of Kimchi, half and full gallons.

I like to buy my kimchi by the bag.

So I picked up a basket and filled it with a six pack of Ramune, some Udon, a big bag of Tobagi Kimchee, a bag of nectarines, and some Jufran hot banana sauce. Just another day at the grocery store.

There is a large section of teas and herbal remedies. Including this one, "Super Colon Sweeper." You have to admire a product with a drawing of the human lower digestive system on the label.