Yesterday, James and I took a food field trip. That is, we went to this super huge Asian grocery store/mall not too far away from our house. I'd never been there, so we figured we'd take a trip to see what we could find (and also purportedly to look for the tofu pouches with which to make inari sushi).
It was amazing! We came home with a few things that I'm excited to figure out how to use. The first is lotus root (follow the link for a picture). It's like ginger in that it's the rhizome (the root, basically) of the lotus plan, but I guess it behaves in cooking sort of like a starchy veggie or a potato. I'm not sure what we'll do with it yet, but I'm psyched to try!
We also grabbed some ginkgo nuts. Did you even know that ginkgo trees had nuts? I didn't. (Though only the female trees produce nuts, I learned, so maybe I've only ever seen the male trees?) Since we got home, I've also learned that ginkgo nuts have a smell comparable to "rancid butter" (I don't know yet, since I haven't opened the package), but apparently they're still good. heh. I guess if you roast them, they're slightly sweet, or they're good in soups or to add texture to other dishes. We'll see. Again, I'm excited for the culinary exploration.
Even though we happened upon this food field trip sort of on a whim, I think it's a good idea to take a trip to a different store every once in a while--preferably one that has food you've never heard of. It's refreshing to be put back in my place: sure, I can find my way around a kitchen, but there is SO MUCH food in the world that I've never even heard of, much less know how to cook with. I like that reminder that the world is much, much bigger than my little portion of it.