Last Sunday Bec and I were both at loose ends. I don’t know why Bec was bored. As for me, Bill has spent every day for the past two weeks from just after breakfast to just before dinner working on the outdoor kitchen he is building in our back yard. The man simply doesn’t quit. So I was looking for something to do to get away from the incessant hammering and drilling.
“What would you like to do?” she asked me.
Well, the fact of the matter is that what I really wanted to do was visit the Wegman’s Grocery Store that is about a half hour drive from her house. That would be her old house in Northern Virginia. When I should have been listening to our priest’s homily, I was instead thinking of grocery shopping and dreaming of Wegman’s.
That, of course, was a no-go, but man it would have been fun. In fact, if my last name was Astor instead of McLain, I would have chartered a jet just to fly us out for the day. The Wegman’s store near her house is amazing. Given that it’s the only Wegman’s store I have ever seen, I can’t generalize and say I love all Wegman’s. But I can say that I love that particular Wegmans’s.
One Sunday when Jen and I were visiting her several years ago, we literally spent three hours walking around that magnificent grocery store. Perusing the cheeses. Smelling the fruits. Drooling over the pastries. Making up recipes in our heads for the seafood. Such fun. I was very glad Bill was not there because his head would have exploded.
Of course, since the Wegman’s nearest to our house in Mesa is in New Jersey, that wasn’t in our plans for that day. After careful consideration, I decided Plan B would be a visit to Lee Lee International Supermarket.
There are a total of three Lee Lee’s Markets in Arizona — one in Peoria, one in Tucson, and the one we went to in Chandler. According to their website, the stores’ founders emigrated 20 years ago from Cambodia to Arizona (now that must have been a culture shock) only to discover a dearth of ethnic grocery stores. Opened as primarily an Asian market, foods from Africa, the Americas, New Zealand, and the Caribbean Islands are now available as well.
Still and all, the food definitely leans towards Asian. More than once, my sister and I commented that we would love to be with
someone who knew how some of the foods we saw were prepared. Especially some of the produce, where we saw everything from the foul-smelling fruit called durian to odd-looking kinds of bananas and cucumbers. And every kind of green you can imagine.
We probably spent 45 minutes to an hour walking through the seafood and meat area, where we couldn’t help but notice odd-
looking whole fish, every kind of meat and foul, and animal innards that I can’t even begin to imagine how to use. Pork uterus? Really?
As for me, I came home with a bag of udon noodles, some wasabi mayonnaise, and a couple of beef shanks that I plan to use next week when I make my mother’s vegetable soup with beef shank.
I think our next grocery exploration will be Pro’s Ranch Market in east Mesa. When you enter their doors, you feel like you have just crossed the border into Mexico.
Sayonara and adios.