Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Pa pa Wady: First Impressions

A few months ago an Asian grocery store opened here in Nacogdoches.  I thought I had imagined it when I went past it coming back from a work event out of town back in April and only in the last month or two have I heard more and more about it via word of mouth.

I had been thinking that it was surprising that there wasn't an Asian grocery store in Nac considering the influx of Burmese employed at one of the local factories and two of the Asian places I eat at would have to drive to Houston once a week to buy ingredients.

Amazonbutterfly had been a few times in the last month or so and finally she took me over there this afternoon.  Now it's a running joke among some of my friends that I really don't do anything for fun.  I have to respond, "I love going to non-American grocery stores.  That is fun."  I love being slightly out of my element but also having a pretty decent knowledge of ingredients and this and that just from experimenting, spending time in markets, and teaching myself what is what.

Pa Pa Wady is an excellent little market that manages to have a startlingly broad selection in a space the size of a 7-11.  Ingredients range from the Subcontinent to the Philippines with a focus on Burmese, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai cuisines.  The fresh produce is inspiring and a reminder that there is more out there than what you'll find in a typical American or Mexican grocery.  There's a wide range of fresh mushrooms all priced less than what you'd find elsewhere.  Seriously, I'm not even much of mushroom fan and I'm thrilled to get some next visit.

There's a selection of fresh meats along with three large coolers chock full of frozen meat, seafood, and that good old fashioned stuff that makes one realize that one's palette has limits (e.g. cow spleen, yeah, I'll eat it if I go to someone's house and they serve it but normally I avoid the waste removal organs - and brains).  I didn't pick up any of the seafood but I'm definitely going to on a future visit.

Then we get to one my favorite sections: spices, sauces, condiments, and assorted goodies.  I picked up some "super hot" fried chile paste (Dragonfly brand which I haven't tried - normally I buy Bell & Flower), some Pearl River Bridge sweet dark vinegar (I love this company's Superior Light soy sauce, I buy it by the half-gallon), and a "sweet" chile sauce from Malaysia - Yeo's (very thick and very citrus-y, I plan to add it to my al pastor).

An excellent experience, I feel inspired again.  Plus, I'm going to youtube how to speak foodie tourist Burmese.  If these folks are nice enough to open a proper grocery store, the least I can do is learn a little bit of their language.

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