Sunday, August 08, 2010

East, west, then a direction all my own.

Daddy! Daddy! Dried squid!! Can we get some , please?!!
-Miniwether at the Asian store.

Remember back when Clark and I were intrepid explorers of the borderlands? Walked where no one else had walked, paddling where no one else had paddled, stepping on copperheads where no one else has stepped on a copperhead. Ah, those heady days of adventure, adventure and exploration...they are a lot harder to come by for guys with four kids in tow.

That is, for guys who AREN'T me and Clark. There's still plenty of exploration left to do in Houston even if you have kids. For instance, if you want your children to experience the world, why not take them to Asia and Eastern Europe? Both are conveniently located just a few blocks apart on Blalock Rd in west Houston.

Our first stop was the 99 Ranch Asian Market at 1005 Blalock Rd. I love this place! Weird foods, strange candies, odd drinks, bright colors and the babble of Chinese, Japanese, Koren, and other languages of far off lands.

A pallet of durian fruit!

Fish! Like most Asian food stores, they have tanks of live fish, crabs, and assorted other aquatic edibles. Wander down to the meat section if you want a platter of pig's ears, chicken paws, hog's feet, or the best price on brisket you'll find in Houston.

The Wethergirls and Clarkettes loved seeing all the funky (to them) foods and we really excited when Clark and I said "yes" whenever they found something they wanted to try eating. We left there with bags of sweets, treats, roots, and wine.

Cool, wolf berry wine!

But why stay in the Orient when more of the world beckons? Head down to 1780 Blalock to experience vowel-free shopping in Houston's only Polish food store? If you have a hankering for woda niegazowana, sok wielowarzywny, barszczyk czerwony z jablkiem, or wieprzowina we wlasnym sosie then this is the place to get it.

I have no idea what any of this is but I bet it's tasty.

Clark, being of Polish ancestry and being married to a Polish women, lead the tour through this store. Like the previous place, we loaded up with foods you aren't going to find in the local Kroger's. You want sausage? Nobody makes better sausage than Poles. Stop in, drop a few dimes, and let your feast begin.

So, what did I learn in visiting these two stores? Anything that is edible has been pickled by some culture somewhere, which led me to my latest experiment: pickling purslane and burdock roots!

The purslane and dill were grown in my yard, the burdock root was bought at 99 Ranch Market.

I used the pickled okra recipe from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving Food. I cut the recipe in half which was just the right amount of pickling solution to fill two pint jars, one filled with strips of burdock root and one with finger-long branches of purslane.

Finished product. I'm going to let them soak for a few weeks before trying them. I have no idea how they are going to taste.

Anyway, that's my latest adventure. Now it's time for you Wetherpals to tell me about your favorite ethnic stores. Is there an African place you like? An Indian store you find yourself returning to? A Venezuelan market you can't pass by? Me and fellow readers would love to here about them whether in Houston or elsewhere.

Adventure! Excitement! Yummy!


BDTX said...

I go to an asian market off of Scarsdale. Head west on Scarsdale, skip the first market which is just okay at best, and keep going a while until you see the market on your right. It's pretty good, and their veggies and top notch.

Anonymous said...

Blast, I love your sense of adventure. You're living proof you don't have to live the X-Games lifestyle and be helicoptered onto glacier tops and ski down virgin slopes to be living an adventurous life.

Seeing the markets reminds me of when I used to live in NYC - so wonderful to stumble onto something amazing and try it. One Christmas I bought a dried squid as a gag gift ... produced quite a scene when the recipient opened it up.

I also tried a random sampling of packages of things that looked interesting. One was some sort of preserved olive, dry and dusted with putting a teaspoon of alum into your mouth.

As always, thanks for sharing the adventures, Blast!


Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention - did you try the durian? Friends introduced me to it - definitely an acquired taste, and there are hints of turpentine in the taste, but if it's properly ripe, it has the same kind of interesting flavor that comes from complex, fancy stinky cheeses. I tried a few bites of it, and it's repulsive and seductive.

Friends from the Philippines tell me that the "perfect pairing" is ripe, custardy durian and citrusy mangosteen. Seen as the "king and queen" of the fruit world.


clarktx said...

You might want to change women to woman. Just sayin' :)

For those of you who wonder, the sausage is made in Chicago and flown in. Chicago being the second largest population of Poles in the world (Warsaw being #1). If you are just passing through, grab some Kabanosy which is a finger-thick sausage you eat cold, a loaf of bread, some black currant juice, and a prince polo bar for dessert. And the "Babunia" sliced ham is better than boar's head and cheaper too. That should get you started at least.