Having made aliyah more than 12 years ago, I haven’t really felt the need to reconnect with the land of my birth. Every once in a while, I find myself back in the United States. This past visit was for a family wedding. During the time when I was otherwise unoccupied with celebratory responsibilities, my wife and I busied ourselves with our favorite pastime whenever we visit the States: shopping. Her for clothing, me for foodstuffs.
Fairway in Plainview
One of our first stops was in my hometown of Plainview. Skipping past the nostalgia, we ended up in what was never a Fairway when I was little.Now, I love Fairway. It has crazy fun products to looks at and get to different ideas and inspiration for my own culinary exploration.
Before I was able to step into the store, I came across a display of blue potatoes by the entrance. While there’s nothing spectacular about them, they are fun to cook with. I especially like making blue potato knishes with them. And here they were just ready to go. Sadly, I knew I wasn’t going to have an opportunity to cook on this trip, so I took the picture and continued on inside.
Not content with blue potatoes, Fairway had a selection of three different colors of asparagus. Three, you ask? Why yes, asparagus also comes in purple, something I have yet to see here in Israel. Now, I know the truth is that white asparagus is just green asparagus that isn’t allowed any sunlight, and not really a color on its own, but it’s still a thing.
The next piece of produce caught me completely by surprise, and when you see the picture you’ll know why. Among the other citrus fruits was one of the strangest looking things I’d ever seen, and had it not been for my copy of 1001 Foods to Eat Before You Die, (thanks, fam!) I wouldn’t have recognized it. “That’s a Hand of Buddha!” I said to no one in particular. Sure enough, the label confirmed it. This bizarre-looking fruit reminds me of the episode from Gilligan’s Island when a crate of genetically engineered seeds wash up. Mary-Ann plucks a multi-root carrot from the ground and says, “The only time I’ve ever seen this was under a cow!”
I couldn’t bring myself to buy it, because frankly, I had no idea what to do with it, and we all know the rules about bringing fresh produce on international flights.
I did capture a couple of pictures of the freaky thing. In hindsight, I should have bought it and played with it. Oh well, maybe next time, dear readers.
One of the other things I look for are new commercial flavor blends that give me inspiration for my own flavor combinations when experimenting in the kitchen. I found a lemon ginger and cayenne flavored kombucha tea. While I’m not going to go into the details of what that is, it did inspire me to make a batch ginger beer, based on my dear friend Gil Marks’ family recipe. I will be adding home grown lemons and cayenne pepper to it.
In the freezer aisle I spotted an old friend. Call me what you will, I love Morningstar Farms Breakfast Strips. I have fond memories of eating too much of these growing up. I’m glad to see they’re still around.
Another aisle and another inspiration, this one for the hot sauce itch I love to scratch. Fairway’s own brand of “Peachy Mango Habanero Salsa” might not have had kosher certification, but nothing in it seemed to be beyond the possibility of recreating on my own, and maybe adding my own twist to it. Good thing the Big Game is coming up in the near future. Let me know if you’re interested..
The last thing I spotted in Fairway was 100% pure nostalgia. In the refrigerated section were jars and jars of Vita herring. I knew that as much as I wanted to buy it, there would have been no one to share it with, and consuming that much didn’t seem to be a prudent idea over the course of a week where I would be spending most of the evenings out.
Next time: more nostalgia, knives, and rambutan.