Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who is the crazy lady hugging a box of Grape-Nuts in aisle five?

Oh, that would be me.

After the last post got me thinking about raspberries, and how much I crave them, I started thinking about how many things we can get in Kaohsiung now. I mean, raspberries have a short season in Washington, and luckily I fly home at the start of it, so I can't really complain about how scarce they are here. But other foods I have longed for are beginning to hit the shelves on our little island, and for that I am deeply grateful. When western foods become available, not only do I get to enjoy them right now, but it also frees up a lot of space in my checked bags at the end of the summer. My bring-back list is getting shorter and shorter every year.

Here are some of the goodies I've found around Kaohsiung in the last nine months:

Grape-Nuts (I really did hug them).

Cream that doesn't taste funny. It's still UHT, but it has no weird ingredients, only cream, which makes a huge difference in homemade ice cream and such. Plus, it's from Ireland, where all the cows are clean and happy.

Green peppercorns.

Bourbon vanilla extract.

Orzo, or rather Rosemarino, which is a bit more needle-like but still cooks up into a lovely pilaf.

Sea salt, and loads of it: New Zealand salt, Chilean red salt, local salt -- it all makes me happy.

Yogurt starter, with even more bacterial strains and a creamier taste than the starter that I've been smuggling over here for years.

Chili powder -- Costco size.

Rye flour. Haven't bought it yet, but I know where to find it now.

Brown rice flour. Bought it, but haven't used it yet. Somewhere I have a great lavender shortbread recipe that calls for it.

Ginger snaps.

Fresh dill! A friend bought some at the morning market and shared it with me. It's salmon with dill butter on the menu tonight.

There are still some essentials that elude me: beef bouillon, couscous, tapenade, chutney, vanilla beans, lentils, dried pears, powdered sugar that doesn't make your frosting gritty. But when you consider how cheap the fresh produce and meats are here, and how easy it is to get western staples, it looks more and more like a cook's paradise. And with all the extra room in my suitcases, maybe I can bring more books. Or travel lighter. There's a thought.


Anonymous said...

Bourbon... ummmm.
oh, and vanilla, sure. That too.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kathy! I lost all my email addresses in a computer crash. When are you visiting WA? Email me when you get a chance so I have your email address again. I wonder how many more times I can write "email" in this message? Email me and let me know. :) Eileen

Anonymous said...

I haven't even been able to find dried pears, here! Of course maybe the fact that I "dislike" dried fruit could be part of the problem...But having lived in Taiwan I know the feeling of hugging a product you were excited to find! Like Hershey's kisses--and eating most of the bag in the car before I got it home...

Anonymous said...

Iknow where to get fat plump Vanilla beans


Kat said...

Kevin, I saved some dill butter for you -- go get yourself some salmon or something.

I would love to know where you get these alleged "fat, plump" vanilla beans. You are a very resourceful chef. : )

Anonymous said...

You're the best! I'm doing better...and it turned out they ended up wondering if I had wanted to come anyway (and could have since other people went too), but it's fine. I'll hang out with them this weekend and I ended up having a good night. Good ole' WalMart! :P We're doing a "Read the Bible in a Weekend" (collectively) thing that started tonight so I need to get back to it, but thanks for the encouragement. You and Mom are the freaking best at it. :) I'll enjoy that Coke this weekend too.
Love you <3