Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Noodle Wonderland

 This afternoon Joey's dad suggested that I needed to get out of the house. I needed to get more rice noodles for future pad thais, but I felt as though I couldn't get going. But he persisted, adding that Joey needed to practice having me come and go from the house as a means to shake his separation anxiety. Besides, if I needed rice noodles, they had to be bought from the right place. Where else would I go but to Tran's World Food Market in Hadley, Massachusetts? It's right across the river from Northampton on Route 9 (or 50 Russell Road, if you want the local address). Tran's is a real treasure and I'll never forget the first time I visited a few months after moving to Florence. They stock a gazillion items in what seems to be a really small space, and everything is super neat.
Aaah, the aisle of noodles.
This market bridges two different versions of Asian markets that I have grown accustomed to in my lifetime. Not to sound dramatic and all, but here in East Coast towns away from the bigger cities (Washington DC, NYC, Boston) it was rare to find adequate Asian markets. It still is where my parents live, and my mom thinks it's because they live so close to Westchester County and New York City. Frequently even the old markets in NYC Chinatown will still remind me of the older style with its many dried items, canned goods, and preserved meats, such as Chinese sausages on the strings that have to be cut down.

But nowadays we have some really great, shiny Asian supermarkets springing up in places where the population has become larger. When I say shiny, I mean really bright and well-stocked with items I never dreamed of. Many of these newer supermarkets are stacked high with items from various countries, including those from East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin American countries as well. To call them Asian markets may be inaccurate nowadays, which is why Tran's is very accurate in describing themselves as a "world market." I saw French lentils on the shelf today, not far from the Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory.

The array of treasures that came home today.
The seaweed rice crackers were prescribed by Joey's dad.
One of numerous fridges/freezers. In the bottom
of this one, note the whole durian fruit available, next
to the more benign mangosteen.

After my shopping was done, I came home to find out that I'm invited to Local Burger in downtown Northampton tomorrow night for a fundraising dinner. So much for making pad thai tomorrow! At least I've gotten started on the seaweed rice crackers.

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