Saturday, January 30, 2010

supermarket socializing

I stopped by Hoa Bin, the Vietnamese supermarket on Holt, the other night, mainly to get some dill. They don't have it all the time, but they usually do, and it's always cheaper than the other supermarkets (and about the same as the Persian market in Upland).

While I was there, I picked up a few varieties of mushroom for the Hungarian Mushroom soup I was making, some dandelion greens, cilantro, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (all for a grand total of $9.13 -- suck it, Von's!).

Standing in line at the till, a young Asian(-American) woman fell in behind me. The grandma in front of me was having a long conversation with the cashier, and as we waited, the young woman asked me, "Do you know how to cook with these ingredients, or did you get a recipe off the Food Network?"

The question still kind of boggles me. The clause about the Food Network wasn't derisive or anything, but I gotta wonder, what's so hard about cooking with mushrooms, herbs, and sweet potatoes? It's not like my basket contained jackfruit, bitter melon, and chicken feet.

On the other hand, I enjoyed chatting in line. That doesn't happen very often around here, or at least not most of the places I shop. It would be nice to do something about that, but then again I don't want to turn into my grandmother, who would tell family stories to toll collectors.


M said...

Hoa Bin is pretty cool. LOVE their fresh baguette.
figures the last time i went for some, there happened to be a very international crowd. quite the nice surprise

meg said...

I've never gotten baguette there, but I will next time. It makes sense, given banh mi and the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine. How well I remember the amazing coffee and rolls for breakfast when I was there 25 years ago!

Anduhrew said...

ha! reverse racism at its best!

calwatch said...

Unfortunately the stench of rotting meat and fish steers me away from both El Super and Hoa Binh. No market should EVER have those smells. If they do, there's a problem.

meg said...

There's no question that Hoa Bin smells. But the things I've bought from the smell counter (fish, shrimp, whole duck) have been impeccably fresh.

A friend proposes that it smells while, say, Whole Foods doesn't because Hoa Bin doesn't use dangerous (for the user) alkali cleaners. That seems somewhat unlikely to me, though. Hoa Bin is many things, but a warrior in the fight for a simple organic lifestyle it ain't.

calwatch said...

Packaged food is subpar, though. This is why I go to 99 Ranch - the aisles are clean, the food doesn't smell, and it doesn't look sketchy. Hoa Binh, Hoa Hsing next to Garey High, etc. cater to the recent immigrant, but once someone gets money they generally avoid the small supermarkets and go to the bigger, more well-kept ones like 99 Ranch, Super H Mart, or Market World.

Anonymous said...

Chicken feet.... LOL!