One of the bright spots in Hampton Roads, if not in the universe, is Grand Mart, a large and lovable grocery store which sells half Korean and half Latino, largely Mexican, food. The store here opened right when we came back here from Korea, right next to the college in fact. I felt like it was a moment of destiny since I was really in despair about good food options. Though there is a little Vietnamese run store on Virginia Beach Blvd which has a decent selection. Grand Mart is a Korean chain, I know there is one in Alexandria also, and I think it was probably the same Grand Mart we shopped at in Sinchon, but perhaps not.

Anyway, it is a source of true happiness in life. If you need to get fresh nopales and octopus in one stop this is the place. The sheer variety of vegetables is astonishing, and even more so in this area where large stretches of Norfolk are food deserts and where the grocery stores that do exist seem to be filled with a lot of stuff that is not exactly food--what Michael Pollen called "edible foodlike items." (one of the worthwhile things out of this book, which I have now saved you the trouble of reading). They have vegetables you can rarely find, like my current favorite green, yu choy. And they sell fish you rarely see, like parrot fish. I didn't even know people ate parrot fish, I thought it was just a staple of coral reefs.

Anyway, I am waxing rhaposdic for a couple of reasons. I just secured a new beeyard out in Suffolk at a Korean organic farm that sells produce to Grand Mart. I am, as you might imagine, thrilled at this opportunity to get organic nectar from a variety of sources. The year has been so warm the Japanese apricot trees were already blooming when I was down there this past weekend. I am going to move some bees down there sometime in the next week or so.

The other reason I was thinking of Grand Mart is because I had lunch there the other day, as I am resolved to do as often as possible now since you can eat high quality Korean for cheap. (You can get excellent Korean elsewhere around here at Norfolk Garden, but it isn't cheap) There is a little restaurant in the back which sells Korean and Latino food. There are two different registers and two different sides for the foods. The people (speaking either Spanish or Korean) make the food standing next to each other in the open kitchen. It is an interesting arrangement reflecting exactly the whole spirit of Grand Mart. Everybody eating there was either Latino or Asian.

I was amused when the large group of Spanish speaking men there for lunch were thinking about what to get, which was either the chicken, rice, and beans special or the "plato Chino." They opted for the chicken, I went "plato Chino."


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