One of my favorite things to do is wander around the Asian grocery stores. While Milwaukee doesn’t have the supermarket-esque Super 88 grocery store that I came to adore while living in the Allston neighborhood of Boston during grad school, there are a few smaller Asian grocery stores that still have fresh produce and trans-Pacific items that I can’t find in the traditional big box markets. Here’s a video of the Super 88 and why I fell in love with it:
Whenever I walk into an Asian grocery store I always feel like an outsider. I don’t look overly Asian even though I’m half Filipino. I think more people would peg me as being Mediterranean before Asian. Still, I like the adventure that is always in store at the Asian grocery. I love being able to pick up the thick-skinned prickly fruit that looks like a puffer fish, hearing the different languages from shoppers and filling my basket with treasures to cook in my bamboo steamer.
The aisles of the grocery stores are tightly packed with items that I don’t recognize the writing on but I can gather that some are oyster sauces, some are noodles, some are remnants of livestock that have been frozen or pickled. As I travel up and down each aisle scanning the contents, I’m taken to a completely different time and place. For other people walking the aisles, they’re taken to a familiar place. The items they place in their carts remind them of home – the land they left. I wonder to myself, “What’s his/her story?” and “What brought you here to this country?”