Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Groceries

"Please do not wash hands in fish tank" says the sign at the K&S World Market where I get my groceries every once and awhile. The market caters to every foreign demographic it can grab: middle eastern, asian, hispanic, and every possible variation therof. It's also one of the few groceries in Nashville that actually employs a butcher, making it a popular choice because foreigners can get every strange cut or part of an animal known to man.
I like getting my groceries here for a number of reasons: I see weird a fat, sweaty man came up to the register carrying only a bag full of maroon colored octopus tentacles. It's kind of a wild one can understand each other, there are people just reaching in and grabbing freshwater eels and crabs with their bare hands, and whats in a package could be anything- fried bamboo caterpillars or pineapple you have to see the picture. I always get inspired about cooking when I go. Mostly I like it because their produce is cheap and still has the dirt on it.
I also love to see what people buy. It's somehow a "great moment in American-ness" to see Nashville immigrant community start to branch out. I'll follow a Hispanic family through the market and watch them pick up plantains, avocados, jalapenos, and bok choy. It's also nice to see the domestic community starting to mix in more and more at places like these. Follow a bleached blonde white lady in an oversized Titans tshirt and a cellphone headset as she picks up basmati rice, doritos, some kind of asian instant shrimp soup, and a Kirin Lager. I'm hoping its because they like to be entertained when they get their groceries. It's like cheap tourism to see duck embryos or chicken feet by the pound. It's also cheap luxury items: I bought a pound of kalamata olives for under $4.
It's nice to see a part of town like the area between Murfreesboro Pike and Nolensville Rd be as successful as it has been. My guess is that there is more local business in that stretch of the city than in the entire greater nashville area combined. Definitely more places to get groceries in 5 miles than there are in my entire city of ~50,000. The immigrant community has revitalized a pretty nasty area of Nashville into a thriving and colorful area. Gas stations and banks get painted yellow and made into busy taquerias with great big barrel smokers and a collection of cowboy hatted hispanics and young black kids on bicycles.
I guess where I am going with this is: the immigrant community in Nashville is what makes me happy about living here.

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