I had been there once before, about eleven months ago. I would stop by more often, but it’s a bit of a schlep compared to my normal grocery runs, for which I have a plethora of reasonable options within a two-mile radius. But those reasonable options - Publix, Kroger, Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, and Whole
First thing you hit when you go in to the BHFM is the produce... and it is amazing. There’s all the familiar stuff you’d find at, say, the local Kroger, and then there’s all the other shit that you’ve either never heard of or have just read an article about in some bizarre foodie magazine. Greenery of every description for every cuisine. Arcane mesoamerican vegetables with unpronounceable names like “xoxocacatepl.” Huge king oyster mushrooms that look like they could double as props in a porn flick.
Continue toward the back, past the fresh and dried ghost peppers (hot as ten bastards!) and the array of spices, unto the displays of Mexican pastries and sodas. Bins full of chicharrones - fried pork skins, the Mexican equivalent of gribenes - in seven different flavors and textures. And then you hit the meat department.
Pork, beef, chicken - they’ve got it all, and they’ve got the nasty bits we never seem to see in White-Bread Land. Want a carboy of chitterlings? An entire omasum (number three of the four stomachs of a steer), AKA tripe? Chicken livers? Chicken spleens? Pork hearts? Beef pizzle? A bucket of blood? Lamb kidneys? Goat? You can find all of that stuff here, everything from the normal to the Downright Scary and/or Revolting.
Fish? They gots fish, too, from monster Bangladeshi prawns to entire buffalo carp to humongous octopus tentacles. And huge fish heads, in case someone wants to make a Singaporean fish head curry. Eat ’em up, yum!
There’s an eclectic assortment of ethnic foods of every stripe, from every continent save Antarctica. The Americas are well represented, as are virtually all the nations of Asia. If you want interesting goodies from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Thailand, et cetera, you’ll find ’em here. There’s actually a Korean deli, too - a great place if you want to be gettin’ jjigae with it.
The Europeans are also there - particularly the Russians - but you’ll find tubes of Finnish mustard and packets of various Dutch treats ranging from kroepoek (the tasty Indonesian shrimp crisps) to stroopwafels (little waffles with caramel syrup filling). Baked goods. Cheeses. Smoked fish. Caviar. And if that’s not enough, international cosmetics.
So, you might ask, just what it was you purchased, Mister Food-Adventure?
Not a whole lot - just a few odds and ends. A packet of Balinese-style kroepoek to go with the nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) I was planning to cook later that day. A bag of frozen dumpings filled with kimchi, the fiery Korean sauerkraut. Some chive blossoms. Some mei lan (Chinese broccoli). A small wheel of Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill cheese, one of SWMBO’s favorites, and available at the BHFM for about half the price charged by the local Whole
It’s nigh impossible to find chicken feet at the local White-Bread Provisioners, but those bad boys are an essential ingredient in a fine chicken stock, loaded with connective tissue as they are. A long simmer breaks all of that collagen down to gelatin, which imparts a delicious, rich mouthfeel to the stock. Perfect as a base for soup, sauces, or a myriad of other applications. And the best part?
It scared the piss out of the Mistress of Sarcasm and the Missus when they came home to find this on the stove:
Good Gawd! They look like little hands in there!