Some of my favorite worldly translations are between Chinese and English: they never make sense and I am always confused, left to stare at a bag and wonder what might be the consequences of eating its contents. Last night, I found these gems (among many others).
- Salt Walnut Kernel — “Need of High Quality Service” reads the tagline
- Milk Drink — After China’s melamine scare two years ago, I don’t think I’ll be consuming any of their products involving lactose, even if it does have the cartoon of a child grinning wildly; he can’t possibly be having that much fun with such a generic product.
- Tai Lake Roasted Fish Snacks — Also in Anchovy.
- Vegetarian Meat Dried Sea Moss — Huh?
- Coconut Sport Balls — For a really good time.
- High Gluten Flour — Never to be found at Whole Foods, surely.
The aisle housing the spices interested me for two reasons. One, they were cheap as hell. Two, the descriptor “powder” was added to the end of every spice. For instance: Cinnamon Powder, Ground Coriander Powder, Ginger Root Powder. There was something unsettling about the word, making me question the authenticity of the spice itself. Were spices technically powders? Were these not actually spices but some strange powdery incarnation thereof?
Though banned in restaurant cooking – though maybe not in this part of town – MSG could be purchased here in all forms. The bottles were usually advertised simply as “Seasoning” and followed by a year indicating it was established nearly one hundred years ago or longer. It came in big cans, small cans, saltshakers, even liquid form if you felt so inclined.
Also worth noting was their prepared food counter. Amongst sautéed mushroom and cabbage dishes to go were seasoned (and unseasoned) chickens’ feet, boiled to pale perfection. As I stood at the cash register paying for my items – rice seasoning (Lord knows why) and Taro Root Sticks (a snack that looked delicious but ended up tasting strangely of fish) – I resisted the urge for any impulse buys. And trust me, my taste for chicken feet has always been… well, it wasn’t that hard.