Friday, February 03, 2012

Exile in America

After a busy week in St. Louis that included three interviews with local papers, two editorial meetings and one board meeting, I got off a little early.  Not sure what exactly to do with my time, I wandered into a place called Jay's International Market on Grand Ave.  Jay's International Market is kinda like my gastrodiplomacy world in one store.

I had visited the place a few days prior with our Education Director Marc, as he stocked up for some provisions for his Kurdish and Lebanese boarders such as big bags of fluffy Iraqi-style pita, nana mint and mee goreng ramen noodles.  I had bought some Japanese udon soup noodles and a bottle of sweet Vitamilk soy milk that I introduced to my Middle Eastern friends (they liked it).

Today, I just slowly meandered down the aisles, past jars of Hungarian pickled yellow peppers, Armenian eggplant smash and cans of Croatian pate.  There were sacks upon sacks of basmati rice.  Bouncey Vietnamese sounds echoed down the aisles of yellow curries, red chili pastes and lime pickles, as boboushkas filed past pickled purple turnips slivers.  Tea as far as the eye could see.  I stared at jars of breadfruit as an African family thumbed avocados and yams behind me.  The meat counter proudly displayed fish heads and cuts of cuisine not often found on the American palate.  Bags of naan sat fluffed next to pita, and beckoned to be slathered with the assortment of exotic jellies just further down.

I wrestled with the decision to get a can of Chinese chrysanthemum tea or Philippine calamensi juice, before I bought a can of Ting and savored the grapefruit-tinged nostalgia.  My taste for nostalgia leaves me missing the world I know, but gems like Jay's International Market are part of the America that I relish.

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