Your Source for Feasts

Denver Love Letter #13

Disclaimer!  H-Mart is not exclusive to Denver (in fact, there is even one in Northern Virginia!).  I would imagine there are even better Asian markets around town that I haven’t visited, but H-Mart was my first and is plenty good to mention.

H-Mart is an Asian market.  It has lots of things for sale that I would be queasy about eating and even more queasy about cooking.  I’m not proud of my queasiness, but it is a fact.  I steer clear of the meat section because, while I’m sure it’s tasty, it just looks too freaking gross to put much thought into.  I look at the fish, but probably wouldn’t cook it for myself.  Anything in the produce section, though, is fair game.

Ahhhhhhh, the produce section.  Remember what lettuce meant to you growing up?  Basically a head of iceberg?  Maybe it’s just me, but our broccoli was always frozen, our tomatoes always beefsteak (which, we didn’t call them that — they were just tomatoes) (also, did Roma tomatoes exist, or did I just not know of them?).  And my family was somewhat adventurous.  There was, for example, eggplant and asparagus, artichoke and sprouts…  squash…  And I think that’s how many of us grew up (or maybe it’s just how small town kids grow up).

When I came to college (was it a city thing? a class thing? a liberal thing?), I was introduced to grape-leaf-wrapped dolmas, hummus, brie (which, yes, isn’t a vegetable, but still it was a fantastic discovery), endives, radicchio, olives that didn’t come in a can, capers, leaf lettuce…  The world of vegetables at my fingertips — or at least as close as the nearest Wild Oats!

…Or so I thought.  Dining out, I began to be aware of new vegetables.  Well, of one, anyway: the long, skinny eggplant.  And this fall I found my source for them: H-Mart.  Which is also the source for a lot of vegetables  and fruits I haven’t tried yet, but am slowly getting used to the idea of.  It also has pretty much the most amazing thing ever: roasted seaweed coated in oil and salt.  You eat them like chips and they are freaking delicious.  Tonight I had all of these intentions of cooking up something tasty, but the seaweed chips totally derailed me.

I should mention that H-Mart (and the seaweed snack) is one of those wonderful things gleaned from a failed attempt at a relationship.  I also have failed relationships (or interactions that didn’t even enter “relationship” level) to thank for some of the roots of my taste in literature and music and maybe even interior design, for my appreciation of rare prime rib, figs, green tea, cumin, tofu, and smoked fish.  So thanks, ex-boyfriends and ex-lovers and ex-“people-I-hung-out-with”-and-don’t-dare-call-it-a-relationship.  I still think at least half of you are complete jerk-faces, so don’t get too excited.



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6 responses to “Your Source for Feasts

  1. Susie Dykstra

    Ha! The remnants of relationships failed…I think that’s how I’ve acquired the soundtrack of my existence, among other things…I always find it curious, the things we carry with us!

  2. Me, too! It used to really bother me, because I somehow associated it with not having a strong core self, but I figure if it’s something liked about the person (or found I liked through the person), it’s not such a bad thing to carry around as my own after we go our separate ways. That’s what shared experience does, right?

    I did some reorganizing of my apartment over the weekend and found all this sentimental stuff… Do I really need this postcard, this ticket stub, this magazine clipping, this photo, these dice, or that Lego witch? Maybe not — it was bittersweet stumbling upon much of it, but it’s also an experience I wouldn’t mind having every half-decade or so.

  3. Hannah

    Wow…I read your giant list of food after stuffing myself with a coconut-milk ice cream sundae and it made me a bit queasy, but I loved your post.

    I went into H-mart and they were rude to me. I was too timid to go back, but I loooove asian markets.

    I guess I’m lucky that my parents are better-than-average cooks but even so I had my share of typical fare, but even the basic stuff was delish! My dad makes the most amazing thai and asian food and my mom makes great european-style dishes.

    Sorry…I always vow I will stop writing such long comments on your posts but I never stop. That is, unless you tell me to…

  4. True, they’re not particularly friendly at H-Mart, but sometimes it irritates me when the checkout person is overly friendly. Sometimes it feels like an invasion of privacy — why do you care what I’m making with allspice or okra? I can be pretty misanthropic, so I don’t mind a bit of rudeness.

  5. Hannah

    Yeah…I know what you mean. But there’s a difference between simple ‘not very friendly’ ness and downright completely ignoring you when you ask for help several times.

    I definitely think there’s a balance to be had…I get sick of being entreated 10-12 times in, say, Target about whether I want help, but I figure if you’re in customer service you should have a certain amount of people skills…

  6. Hannah

    Actually…to be honest…at the risk of sounding strange here, I went to an asian market in Dallas once I had a similar experience, where the workers and patrons both were whispering, sniggering and speaking in another language while they were watching us.

    That kind of thing bothers me. Misanthropy is one thing–but open derision towards another person in public in a public market is just nasty, imo.

    Anyway…sorry. Nothing against you, of course. Just commenting on that…

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