I happen to live really close to the Chinatown part of Las Vegas. I don’t really know if we call it Chinatown or Asiantown or the Asian District, but you get my drift, a lot of pagoda shaped buildings and signs I can’t read.
I’ve never been into one of the stores because I was kind of scared. I was scared because of what I might see and what people might say when they saw me, and just like when you go get pedicures you have no clue what they are saying about you.
And I didn’t want to walk into one of these places by mistake. Luckily this one is labeled quite plainly. I don’t even want to know what table shower is…
Anyway, I had a reason to venture into Chinatown. Kyle is turning 12 and is going to have a birthday party centered around cooking/food. I think the kids are going to make their own mini lasagnas and do a blind taste test to see which potato chip reigns supreme and see how many different fruit they can identify by tasting them with blindfolds on. And because this is a boys party there has to be something gross, which brings us to the fear factor part and why I needed to go to Chinatown. I needed to find mealworms and crickets and chocolate covered ants. After researching what countries eat insects I found out that Thailand eats a lot of insects and luckily our Chinatown represents many Asian countries, not just China.
Armed with my posse, Ronnie and I thought it would be a fun field trip for the kids, we headed into Chinatown. Our first store was very busy and the smell of fish filled the whole store. I found the snack aisle but there were no mealworms in it. At our second store I was much more relaxed and wondered around the produce section for a bit.
We saw a Durian, king fruit, the smell from this fruit evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odor has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia, I’m REALLY glad Lana did not drop it. The other picture is of Asian Okra. It is used in stir fries and curried dishes. Other varieties are used to make loofahs or luffas.
Then we headed down the snack aisle and saw lots of dried fish in bags. I’ve never seen anyone munching on a dried flounder filet, but I guess they sell them since the whole aisle was packed with dried fish. Here’s a bad picture of dried anchovies.
The fish smell was not as strong at our second store so we looked around the fish market part. They had live fish swimming in tanks. As soon as you told the fish guys what you wanted it was off with their heads and they were in your cart in the blink of an eye. They also had live crabs and oysters in some shallow tanks where you get to pick your own with tongs. We saw some boys playing with them, trying to get them to pinch the other boy. It was a fun store to visit, but we left without any worms or crickets or ants.
The next day my parents asked me if I went to the place outside of Chinatown called the International Marketplace, which I didn’t. They had been there once when they were looking for buckwheat. This store was my favorite. They had European stuff on the right and Asian on the left with freezers and a fish counter in the middle. I got really brave and ventured into the meats, and really wished I hadn’t. I took a picture of this and emailed it to Ronnie, who was working, with Dinner in the subject line. I know, I’m so wrong!
No insects, but I did leave with a knowledge of how much we waste in our country. I saw things like acorn starch, dried jellyfish, and well the above pictured, pork uterus and had a new appreciation for how resourceful people can be.
I went home and ordered my insects over the internet, the old boring way to find something. I also had to pay $30 to have them shipped to me so the chocolate wouldn’t melt. Oh well a boy only turns 12 once in his life I guess.