So far, each month I have visited a specialty market that has foods from the part of the world on which I am focusing - a small African market and a Latin American bodega. These shops have been pretty small, with a limited selection, but have helped me locate some great things - I'll be going back to the Latin American market A LOT for Lizano sauce:)
This month, I went to a Korean grocery store my student worker, Erica (who's family is Korean) recommended, and it was a completely different experience from my other grocery forays so far. Zion Market is a chain of 7 markets located in Southern California and specializing in Korean food. The one I went to had a bakery, food court, a few smaller stores selling housewares, jewelry, etc, and a large grocery area. I'm glad I asked Erica what to look for before I went because I would have been totally overwhelmed otherwise.....not that I really knew what I was looking at, but at least I knew to expect it to be big!
I went looking for a few snack items, and to mostly just to get a better sense of what Korean food is all about (I watched an Anthony Bourdain special that spooked me a bit - he ate tiny tentacles just cut off a squid that were still moving!!!! I needed to see some non-extreme cuisine). Kevin came along with me and we were in sensory overload - rows and rows of bright colored bags of unidentifiable snacks with cartoon characters and indecipherable writing, live fish and lobsters, baked goods with unrecognizable fillings, and all sorts of prepared foods. I went looking for a type of kimchi Erica recommended (cucumber), but couldn't find it in the midst of a million kimchis:
Kevin and I did manage to find a few treats to try though - a mystery baked good, some grape jelly crackers, corn chips, mochi, soju, vegetable buns, and "xylish" gum - ginger ale &lime flavor:
All in all, a successful trip!!!!