Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Adventures in Food

Two weeks into the new year in Kansas City and it’s still 50 outside. Amazing! No reason to whine here. I was lucky enough to have vacation time recently during the amazing warm spell. Rode all around town wasting some of the gas I didn’t have to spend going back and forth to Olathe every day to go to work. I stumbled across someone at Penzey’s Spices who is quite a foodie and very knowledgeable about the local food scene. She recommended that I try a couple of stores I’d never heard of until now. They’re both off the beaten path and not visible as I drive my normal routes, and both worth a trip.

One is the Indian Emporium off Metcalf at 104th. It’s been there about 30 years and is chock-full of ingredients for all sorts of Middle Eastern cooking, which I enjoy (some of it). I stocked up on basmati rice, tandoori seasoning, dates and a few other things, some of which can be bought at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but much more that can’t.

The other is 888 Market at the intersection of 169 highway, Switzer road and 119th Street. It has everything Asian you could possibly wish for and more. I wish my brother were still here for an hour (and that’s all – a year and a half was enough). Having lived in Japan for a few years, he could explain all the different kinds of rice, noodles and wrappers. Very confusing.

These are the kind of stores my mom would have loved if she were still with us. She loved trying new things and was an avid reader of Gourmet magazine. Her goal was always to get all of us to at least try just one bite of everything and keep trying new things. I remember one time it backfired as my brother had saved half of his Japanese lunch that he was treated to when his class completed a year of Japanese in high school language arts. Served her right that she had to eat seaweed and chocolate covered grasshoppers as he reminded her, “just one bite, mom, remember what you always said!” Sadist!

My sibs turned out more adventurous than I did when it comes to food, although I’ve improved as I got older. I discovered that texture or mouth feel is paramount to me. Don’t surprise me with a soft watery food on its own and expect me to like it, such as stewed tomatoes or asparagus. My mouth is expecting something sweet like watermelon or peaches. I eat tomatoes and asparagus now, but in more flavorful savory combinations or cooked to a tender crisp such as in stir fry. My list of cooked vegetables I won’t eat keeps shrinking. Mom would be proud….. or more likely would say “it’s about time, Shelley!”

I’ll share some of my favorite discoveries with you this year as I keep trying new things. Let’s start at the beginning, so expect to hear about apples and apricots and asparagus. And on Friday’s I’ll be sharing some of my favorite felines with you from the animal shelter where I volunteer. Till next time.  


  1. Penzey's Spices? I'd like to know more about this place! I miss a store I used to go to in Wichita called The Spice Merchant. I wonder if this would be similar?

  2. Probably very similar. It's in old Overland Park downtown near the farmers market. Near the corner of Santa Fe and 80th Street, a few doors north. Across the street from where they had that big fire a few years back. Love that place, so fragrant when you walk in the door.