January 2016 Winter Blizzard

Earlier, 6:55 PM:

So, we’re moving into a blizzard weekend. Two weeks of laundry to do, groceries to get. I thought we had until tomorrow afternoon, but now I’m checking the weather channel (online of course) and I see that we’re going to start getting snow around 11:30 PM here. Whiteout conditions, until sometime tomorrow. 24 hours of snow. 14 inches of blizzard apocalypse. Can a guy get laundry done during a blizzard? I wonder what things will be like on Sunday?

I have to prioritize food. I don’t want to rely on food deliveries that might be cancelled tomorrow. I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere either. Maybe we’ll just lay around and watch TV. That’s not so bad, as long as the heat stays on.

Now, 11:51 PM:

Going to the grocery store was like walking into madness. It looked like everyone in the neighborhood was jammed into Key Food on 172nd Street. We got there just in time to grab a jug of water. They ran out while we were in line. We figured it would be best to stock up, just in case a pipe broke and repairs couldn’t be done for a while. Mostly we just got regular food and some snacks. The lines snaked around to the back of the store and people were constantly squeezing past each other or bumping into each other. Something that we noticed was that no one was losing their temper or acting crazy, though. Everyone was pretty friendly, in fact. Camaraderie in suffering, I guess.

Anyway, we’re home now, relaxing, and ready.

A case of Stella Artois.
Stella Artois

Filipino Food in Lower East Manhattan–Johnny Air Mart

Johnny Air Mart on Avenue A, between 13th and 14th Street.

The name of the place is a little odd, but it makes sense.  This little store on Avenue A between 13th and 14th street carries Filipino goods, most of which I assume are shipped in by air.  It’s not a very large store, but it has a lot of the food products that I came to enjoy while living in the Philippines, and earlier by buying them at import stores in Singapore.

Since I’ve been back in New York City, I haven’t had the opportunity to really look around for a place to get Filipino foods, so I was happy, and surprised, to see that there is a shop just a few blocks from where I live, located in a spot I pass by almost every day.  I never saw it before because it’s halfway up the block, and I pass Avenue A on 14th street.

Some of the goods on the shelf at Johnny Air Mart.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my favorite flavor of Lucky Me noodles, Chilimansi, and they didn’t have the Calamansi flavored Century Tuna.  The owner was pretty friendly though.  He told me the Lucky Me Chilimansi is usually stocked but he’d run out, and that he’d never carried the Calamansi Century Tuna, but he’d check with his distributor to see if he could get some in.  They also had Sky Flakes, Ligo sardines, Milo, sinigang mix, the nasty shrimp paste my wife enjoys, and many other goodies.

Turon, purchased from Johnny Air Mart.

I didn’t stock up, but I did pick up some turon on the way out the door.  It’s tastier than it looks.  It’s a sweet dessert with a crusty outside and banana inside.  The shop owner warned me that it wasn’t exactly the same as the kind you get from the Philippines though, since it’s made fresh and the type of banana used isn’t quite the same.

I’m glad to see that Filipino foods will be readily available when I’m ready to do some cooking, or when my wife is.  I think it’ll help her to adjust, having some foods from home available.

The Fresh Market in Columbus, Georgia

After doing quite a bit of shopping in cramped, sometimes dingy Asian grocery stores, or in wet markets, it was a treat to shop in The Fresh Market.  Granted, it’s more of an upscale grocery store, but that will just help to highlight the difference between what you usually see in Singapore and the Philippines, and what’s available in the US.

Fresh Market

The first thing I saw when walking into the grocery store were these humongous apples:

Red Apples

The interior of the store is well decorated and there’s a pleasant aroma of cinnamon and other spices.

Fresh Market Interior

Fresh Market Interior

The fruits and vegetables in The Fresh Market are really awesome looking:

Bright Red Tomatoes

Notice how red the tomatoes are.  When I went to Asia I couldn’t figure out why the tomatoes there always had more of a yellowish green look to them, instead of the read I was used to.  I later found out that tomatoes in the US are artificially ripened using methane gas.  Even knowing that, there’s something comforting about seeing bright red, luscious tomatoes.  The ones in Asia always looked like they hadn’t been left on the vine long enough to finish growing.

Fresh baked pies:


They all looked delicious, and I really love pumpkin pies and pecan pies, but we picked up one that I hadn’t heard of before: praline peach pie.  It’s delicious!

The cuts of meat on display looked incredible:

Country Style Sausage

Ya, with all this good food, I’m gonna start looking like a pig if I’m not careful.

A whole wall of spices:

Mixed nuts:

The Fresh Market is clean, smells nice, everything is in order and it’s quiet inside.  Most importantly, it has plenty of space.  In Asian markets and grocery stores, as in most other areas, you’re constantly jostling around and past people to get to what you need.  Shopping there is an ordeal that has to be endured, but in grocery stores in the US there’s enough space to take your time to find what you want, to enjoy the experience, and you enjoy looking around.  Also, though this doesn’t usually apply to grocery stores, there aren’t jackasses hovering over your shoulder constantly trying to push you to buy something.  I hate that!

This level of spaciousness is something that’s more available in Georgia than New York City, because there are far more people in the city, obviously.  Even there, though, stores often have more space to accommodate people.

Visiting The Fresh Market was a fun experience.

MSG By The Bag

Well, I was pretty busy today and I’m getting ready to leave for a wedding, so instead of along post, I’ll just post this:

MSG, which has known negative health effects, can be bought by the bag here.  I always thought the stuff was illegal in the US, but I can’t seem to find any info on it right now.  Maybe later when I get back I’ll do a little more digging.

Update:  Information from MSGTruth.org:

  • MSG tricks your tongue into making you think a certain food is high in protein and thus nutritious. It is not a “meat tenderizer”. It is not a “preservative”. The food industry is trying to confuse the issue by focusing on the “fifth” taste sense they call umami. Free glutamic acid is detected by the taste buds as a simple way to signal the presence of protein in a food, just as there are fat receptors to detect fats and receptors that sense carbohydrate or sweet flavors. The purpose is to help us discern real food from inedible matter. It changes your perception of not simply taste but the nutritious qualities of what you put into your mouth. However, and here is the main problem with free glutamic acid – It is the very same neurotransmitter that your brain and many organs including your ears, eyes, nervous system and pancreas in your body use to initiate certain processes in your body.
  • MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. So many diets these days are concerned about the Glycemic Index of foods and yet none of them address the fact that MSG and free glutamic acid stimulate the pancreas to release insulin when there doesn’t even have to be carbohydrates in the food for that insulin to act on. The food industry has found their own “anti-appetite suppressant”. It’s a convenient way to keep consumers coming back for more. The blood sugar drops because of the insulin flood. And you are hungry an hour later. Sound familiar?

Hey, that does sound familiar. There’s a common saying in the US that when you’re hungry you shouldn’t eat Chinese food because you’ll be hungry a few hours later. I guess that saying is based on the truth of what MSG does to you.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. MSG is in a lot of foods that you wouldn’t have guessed. Check out the MSG Truth site and see for yourself!

Redeeming Shopping Coupons

Most stores nowadays have a redemption program, or some sort of loyalty program, where you get a discount after spending a certain amount, or when you use your membership card.  It’s basically a common practice.

Shop N Save is no different.  They have a program where you get stamps every time you shop there.  The amount of stamps you get is based on how much you spend.  If you save up enough stamps within the month you can redeem them for discounts or even cookware.

The problem is that the stamps become invalid after the month they were “earned” in, so you feel compelled to buy, buy, buy!

But, who really needs that many groceries?  Especially if you’re elderly and you don’t have kids at home anymore?  People still want to take advantage of the promotion.

What I’ve noticed lately is that when I exit Shop N Save, there is typically an older person standing around and as you pass by the ask you for your stamps, so they can apply them to their own cards.

I always give the person the stamps because I know I’m not going to use them.  I’ll never collect enough in one month to make a redemption, so why not let someone else benefit from it?

I was thinking though, that normally it’s an elderly person asking for the stamps, so I always feel more inclined to hand them over with a smile.  What if it was someone my own age?  Would I be less inclined to give them the stamp?  Would it matter?

Looking For Eggs in Singapore?

I’ve moved around the world a lot, but in most places I’ve been I was on a military installation, so things were more or less the same.  Well, the same in that one military installation is pretty similar to the others, especially when it comes to the stores.

There were times when I lived off of a military installation, or traveled off of a military installation, but I wasn’t exactly looking for eggs, or groceries.

So, coming to Singapore to live, and live in Singapore itself, rather than on a base somewhere, was a whole new experience for me.  Part of that ‘new experience’ was shopping from local stores.

For the most part, shopping in Singapore is just like shopping in the US.  Some of the brands are different, and sometimes you can tell that the item you’re holding is made by the same people that make it in the US, but is just under a different name. One example I can think of is Axe deodorant.  I can’t remember what it’s called here, but the package design is exactly the same, but with a different name.  Unless it’s a Chinese knock-off anyway.  I didn’t look too closely at it.  Also, there is a different variety of vegetables that are more commonly found in the produce section here.  Some of the fish are different too.

One thing you expect to be the same though, is that you will find the items you’re looking for in the same parts of the store.  You want meat?  Go to the coolers along the wall.  Same for dairy products.  Want veggies?  Look in the bins in the produce section.  So… I remember how surprised I was when I couldn’t find any eggs the first time I wanted to buy some here.  I checked every single cooler in the store.  Not to be found.

Where did they end up being?  On a shelf.  Not being chilled.  I was kinda shocked because that was completely foreign to me.  I was actually under the impression that if eggs weren’t chilled, they would go bad.  In the US there are even egg trays built into the doors of the refrigerators.  Thinking about it now, I suppose that chilling them just slows down the spoiling process, or hatching process, though I don’t know if they would actually hatch.

Anyhow, here’s a photo of eggs on a shelf, from Shop N Save:

How are eggs typically stored at the store and in the house where you are?