Growing up in Kansas, I was exposed to multiple cultures due to my hometown of Dodge City being the home of a few large slaughter houses and many immigrants came there to toil and live in a town with a relatively low cost of living. My closest friends were Hispanic, Laotian, Vietnamese and Indian. Of course, I also had African American and Caucasion friends, too. My Laotian friend introduced me the flavors of Asia and since then, I have been hooked. HOOKED. I ate so much Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, etc. and I still can't get enough of it. Sadly, due to an allergy to fish and shellfish, I rarely eat at most Asian restaurants. Indian is usually fine but the rest tend to use fish sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp paste, etc. in their cooking and I can't risk cross contamination. Therefore, I make my own! I have definitely become a fairly decent cook in my own right but I am learning to expand and grow.
In the Phoenix area, we have quite a nice selection of ethnic markets. However, the one that sucks me in is Lee Lee's Oriental Market. Lee Lee's is a mecca of food. Each aisle is arrange by a country or a key ingredient (i.e., Thailand, Holland, Noodles, Rice, etc.). You can find most everything you are looking for! Need Caribbean ingredients? They have them. Looking for some specific Middle Eastern spices? They have them. Need curry? Oh they have tons of them. This place is amazing. I love to pick up fresh noodles. I get my soy sauce, rice wine, vinegars, and spices dirt cheap. Don't buy typical American stuff there, though, because they are EXPENSIVE. Haha. Oh and the meat counters? Amazing. I am such a fangirl.
Here's a bit about their start:
So, I picked up a few items so I could make a few dishes from a new cookbook I bought and then we swung by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for a latte. I rolled up when it was my turn in the drive through to pay for my order and the girl told me that the man in the truck ahead of me paid for my drink. Wow. Blown away by this random act of kindness! I have had a terrible last few weeks and it was needed. Since there were no cars behind me, I gave the employees a large tip as my way to pay it forward. It really made my day!