Tuesday, March 08, 2005

At the suggestion of one of my readers, Lynne Blake, I made the trek to the Winchester Farmer's Market. It's on the northeast corner of Winchester and Kirby Road, in a former Seessels building. On the front of the building are also signs in Spanish and several oriental languages. Lynne had told me about it but in no way was I prepared for what I found. The first thing I saw was a section of apparently ready to eat items, all marked in an oriental language, most difficult to identify (were those eels?!?). Then you wander into the produce section. Several kinds of bananas, including ones not much bigger than my thumb, another marked "butter bananas," and red ones. And plantains, too. I can't even begin to list the produce selections, but all the ones you read about in Mexican, Central American, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese recipes, and more, seemed to be represented at pretty astonishing prices.

By then you've reached the back of the store, where there are tanks with several varieties of live seafood, including lobsters and dungeness crabs. Stretching along beside it for 30 or so feet was the fresh seafood counter, mostly whole fish. But there is someone on duty to clean them for you if you want them whole, or to filet them for you if that's what you want.

Each of the aisles is marked with a country name: Mexico, China, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, packed with goodies. On pallets at the ends of the aisles are big bags of various rices and grains.

The frozen food section in the middle of the store yielded some interesting items: lamb shanks and leg, of course, but also brains, kidney and liver. More seafood including lots of whole fish. More poultry products, including whole ducks (head and all), chicken feet, and quail. More pork products. Beef products including tripe, kidneys and--get this, I swear it's the truth--whole skinned heads (at the bargain price of $24.99 each).

In the dairy section were preserved duck eggs, and fresh quail eggs and lots of Hispanic cheeses.

Along one side wall is another frozen food section with a selection of dim sum, dumplings, and lots of packaged dishes. Right beside the Blue Bell ice cream were several more exotic flavors (red bean, litchi).

There is also a selection of cookware from various countries at very reasonable prices. I had my eye on a Korean pot, but fortunately for my pocketbook I hadn't taken a cart, so I was limited to the several packages of Mexican chocolate I could carry.

All I have to say is WOW! I can't wait to go back when I'm going to be cooking and try some of the produce. I think I'll pass on the beef heads, though!

1 comment:

Neil said...

Alyce, find Chris next time you are there. I believe he is one of the managers. He is Korean and has been very kind in pointing me to the locations of things I could not find. Also, in season, they carry live blue crabs, which for a boy from Maryland is a god send.