Ahhhh, New England. Where there’s a good pizza place, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and an Italian bakery within a five-mile radius of….well…anywhere you are. Where you can get a sofgliatella (my favorite), or a lobster tail, or a real cannoli, and/or a decent slice of pizza, and an iced dahk roast in the middle of winter.
A search for an Italian pastry shop in Dallas left me high and dry. There’s not a single one with anything more than a cannoli – but apparently I can get authentic Russian cakes, and there’s even a Russian banya in Carrolton. I figured that if the white half of my (far more common) identity was nowhere to be found in the midst of what is touted as the new up-and-coming city, there was little hope for the other (Asian) half.
But I was wrong.
After brunch with my cousin, I took in the sunshine, and a short drive later, I found myself in what could only be described as K-Town.
All Asians and extremely limited English, complete with crappy drivers and parking jobs! It was like being back in China! – well, except it was Korean. And the awkward moments when they ask me a question in Korean, and I can’t answer, when they obviously expected me to be able to…Feeling both out of place and completely at home, I entered KoMart, which is a giant grocery store.
Let me tell you – I was not prepared. I’ve been in massive Asian grocery stores, I’ve seen live animals in nets, and watched ahjumas cooking giant vats of kimchi or beef. But that it was in Texas, with cowboy boots, and no English…that was the part that really got me.
It both hilarious and mindblowing to know if I ever decided to be an actual Korean, instead of an imposter, I’d have an easier time in Dallas than in New Haven. Of course, my actual Italianism would suffer – which is something I have trouble wrapping my head around, since I always figured that in the states, being Italian is easier than being Korean. There are a few Korean churches and Korean groceries within a block or two of me at home, but by and large, Wooster Square and the Italian influence is far more palpable, and probably why I feel most comfortable in that environment. It’s just what I grew up with. It’s a crazy paradigm shift when I go to Asian neighborhoods. But! Back to KoMart….
A bit of meandering around the store, up the tea aisle (and picking out some fancy buckwheat tea) and down the ramen aisle (grabbing Black Shin Ramyun) led me to the back of the store, to the huge cases of both fresh and frozen meat. And upon finding these cases, I also found my absolute favorite part of American-Asian grocery stores: Engrish.
…Because who doesn’t want five-layer bally?