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The Joy of Ethnic Markets

Lenten thanks, Day 34

Great idea, God, to make us all different. Thanks for all the differences that human beings come in. Wellllll…except maybe for Them Republicans. 😉

Mwa ha ha! Calm down, little heffalumps: it’s a joke! Even God has a sense of humor. Oh, what the heck: maybe especially God has a sense of humor. She’d have to…it’s the only explanation for life on earth.

Yesterday I went up to the Ranch Market, an ethnic grocery store that replaced the old, crummy Fry’s, which some time ago fled the threatened lightrail construction. It’s a nice, compact supermarket, unabashedly Mexican. Walk in the front door and you’re greeted by light-hearted, catchy salsa music; check out and all you’ll hear in line is Spanish.

I love stores like this. Perused the fine selection of peppers, plantains, pork cut especially for posole, fresh-made tortillas, open bins of red, black, peruano, and pinto peans…yeah! Their pasillos were gorgeous. Definitely will be back for some of those. In the meantime, though, I went there specifically in search of some inexpensive meat for the little dog. As grocery prices have ballooned, the chicken and on-sale beef I’ve been buying have gone way out of reach, so I’ve begun looking for ways to get a grip on the food bills. One way is to buy cheaper, lower-grade meat for the hound.

In fact, they had rather little “lower-grade” meat. Most of what was on offer looked fresh and of fairly high quality. And cost. Finally I came across some skinned, boned chicken thighs: $1.99 a pound.

Not great, as prices go, but better than anything else I’ve seen lately.

Well, I just opened up the package to set the meat on the grill, there to cook over the lowest heat possible. What came out was not little three-bite pieces of thigh meat, but great big chunks of dark meat. Each piece is as large as a small steak.


These aren’t thighs. What they’ve done is they’ve boned and skinned an entire leg plus most or all of the back quarter. Each piece equals most of the meat on a dark-meat quarter-chicken!


That dog isn’t getting all of this. Whipped up a nice garlic vinaigrette with a bit of anchovy, rubbed that over the surface of one piece, and topped it with some herbes de provence. The whole mess of meat—enough to feed Cassie for almost a week and me for tonight and maybe tomorrow noon—is now slowly grilling over 200-degree heat.

How convenient to have this nifty Mexican market within walking distance!

Way over on the west side there’s another great ethnic store, the westside outlet of Lee-Lee, an awe-inspiring Asian market. Asian and Pacific, actually. This outfit organizes its aisles by country of origin: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Pakistani, Arabic, Hawaiian, Latin American… OMG! This is the place to buy curries of any and all descriptions. The produce department defies belief. And you can pick out a live fish for your dinner. Prices are far lower than ordinary supermarkets, and you’ll find foods you never even heard of.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with some ethnic markets, don’t be too shy to check them out. And if you’re even more lucky and have a friend of that ethnicity, don’t go alone!



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4 thoughts on “The Joy of Ethnic Markets”

  1. Fortunately we live in an area with a very diverse population. Ethnic markets are my secret source for groceries. Those and markets devoted to one category of food – like produce markets and butcher shops (when you can find one). I try to avoid the big chain super markets when ever possible.


  2. Totally agree.

    Plus it’s ridiculous the amount of money markets like Safeway or IGA charge to sell you “white” versions of ethic foods. Sure they have english-friendly labels and they say “boil noodles” instead of “boil noodle” but it’s still a ripoff.

    I saw coconut milk for $3 a can once – eep! Across the street at the asian market, it was 79 cents.

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