As I've mentioned here before, John and I really enjoy eating all kinds of Asian food; as such, Finn and Shea have been exposed in their few years to more exotic items than each of our mouths saw in our first 20. So we try to visit 99 Ranch every couple months or so, mostly to replace our supply of sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, and spring roll wrappers. (Yeah, compared to the traditional American dinner table--and judging by the scrunched up faces my mother makes when I show her some of our food choices--we eat some pretty funky dishes sometimes.)
For me, going to 99 Ranch (or Mitsuwa, a marketplace with a more Japanese bent where John and I spent an entire afternoon one pre-children Valentine's Day), is like traveling. One of the things I love about traveling is the feeling of confusion and uncertainly it brings. That sounds slightly counterintuitive, I realize; after all, don't most people travel to escape the stresses of life? Yes, some do. Especially those who stay at their hotel pool or hotel bar for the entire duration of their stay in Hawaii or some other equally breathtaking locale. Ahem.
It feels more like living.
It's also humbling to be immersed in a place where not everything makes sense right away--Oh yeah, I'd forgotten, the world's much bigger than my little universe--as is having to work a bit to unravel the patternwork that's commonplace to everyone else. (Holly writes about this beautifully, here, in a manner more concise than I'm able to articulate right now.)
Once, during my corporate employment days, a Chinese co-worker agreed to allow me to tag along with her through 99 Ranch as she did her weekly shopping. Because we had just filled our bellies at a company dim sum lunch at the restaurant next door on the last workday before the Christmas holiday, we were able to leisurely wind our way through the aisles without worrying about watching the clock. She kindly stopped to explain what many of the products were that filled her cart; most of the items she considered staples had never crossed my mind, let alone my lips.
Now, as a little gift of travel from me to you, I present our weekend trip to 99 Ranch--in pictures! Don't miss the special contest at the end, wherein one witty Double Duty Diary reader will be awarded a very special prize for their creative input.
Who ever said Tuesdays were boring?
Fish you can just reach out and touch,
if you're into that kinda thing
Tiny little bananas make tiny little babies happy
And this, folks, is just the bok choy section
Doctor Noodle is Mr. Noodle's macho half-brother
The charming language fumbles are too plentiful to count
I've tried shrimp heads and chicken feet in my time.
But this? This just blows my mind and goes from bad...
... to worse.
In the blog comments section, please leave your best/snarkiest/wittiest/fishiest captions for the photo below. Deadline for captions is this Friday morning, August 25th, by the time I drink my morning coffee. Fabulous prize, to be determined and distributed by me, will be awarded to lucky winner. Winning caption will be announced sometime on Friday, so don't delay!