The other day, Gerard and I did all of our grocery shopping in our general neighborhood. My friend Sarah has written well about the glories of small, local non-corporate groceries, so I won’t expand too much, but I will second and applaud paying a fraction of what one pays at Whole Foods or (gasp) Trader Joe’s to get better, cheaper, and more authentic ingredients; while at the same time participating in a worthwhile local economy.
The plan was to go to Kurowski’s Sausage Shop at Milwaukee and Kimball and the Chicago Food Corp at Kimball and Belmont. On the walk up there, we discovered an awesome Hispanic market, whose name I can’t recall. It was on Milwaukee between Kimball and Central Park and had amazing produce (normal sized, not huge) organic greens (!!!) and a wide selection of other goods. We picked up some pipian, a couple of delicious lemons, and some sardines which we’ll eventually use for savory fritters.
When we got to Kurowski’s, Gerard was impressed (or grossed out) by the vast selection of goods including sausages and many root vegetables. Among other things we got beets, sauerkraut, horseradish, my favorite Amish Butter, and a pound of Polish rye bread. I also bought two sausages which I am eager to try. Our bag was starting to get heavy, but at this point we had only spent about twenty dollars. This is fantastic seeing as when I go to Whole Foods, it’s depressing to find both my pocketbook and grocery bag lighter than I’d like.
After our adventure in Poland we walked over to Kimball and Belmont. On our way we discovered a mystical sandwich shop/ bar that apparently stays open until 4am. Some hot night in the summer, it might warrant a date post midnight, provided that said sandwich shop has air conditioning. We arrived at the Chicago Food mart with a mission- we were making curried squid over coconut rice for a late lunch (unfortunately, I did not have my camera that day). We got all the necessities for that culinary adventure (who knew that the butchers at the Chicago Food Mart spoke Spanish? Not me!) While there, I spotted two things I knew I needed to have: Kewpie Mayonnaise (which we will find our more about later- I know it’s been featured in a lot of popular food press for the past few months, but my curiosity has been piqued and I’m jumping on the bandwagon) and Persimmons.
I get a lot of flack for growing up in the “land that time forgot,” ahem. But the food in Indiana is good. Persimmons became popular in Indiana for some reason. I do believe one of Indiana’s founding fathers had a penchant for all things Asian, specifically Japanese, because the state tree is a ginkgo and the state flower is a peony, go figure. Persimmons are also Japanese. I imagine his wife making persimmon pudding for the first time back in 1818, when Indiana was a young state. This is probably entirely false, but it sounds cool. Anyway, my friend’s mothers were not pioneer women, but they could make food that stuck to your ribs. My parents are not native Hoosiers. Seeing as my parents were foreigners in a strange land and their only daughter was really skinny, I was always fed by people who take skinniness as a personal affront, which most people in Indiana seem to.
Persimmons might be an acquired taste, but it is one worth getting. The fruit is sweet and when ripe the taste is not unlike that of a plum with a more drippy texture. On the package, persimmons are called “Nature’s Candy”. On another rocking Friday night with the most happening young woman in all of Chicagoland, I decided to make some persimmmon pudding in honor of my Hoosier roots, thorugh truth be told I was born a southern bell in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whatevs, Indiana is a state of mind.
1 cup persimmons, skin removed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
It was pretty tasty, and everyone who had a piece confirmed it.
Next up, party, which I am getting ready for momentarily!