...I found something yesterday that I had never seen before, at the Super H in Fairfax: Fresh garbanzo beans, green and still in their pods. There is one bean, sometimes two per pod. they taste a bit like fresh peas, though not quite as sweet. I bought a sackful and shelled them in front of the tv last night. I'm still thinking about how best to use them.
The appropriately named Bestworld (formerly Bestway) in Mt. Pleasant (3178 MtP st) has them, next to the Thai tiger eggplant and under what looks like Thai stink beans. Bestworld, along with A Literri is in the rare league of considerable substance-over-style food shops. Relief from the sterile, vacuous, Vegas-sized national retailers that charge $2 for a generic grapefruit. It is my default-setting for all dinner party proteins & sundries and should be yours too.
Overlooking the folkloric prejudices of shopping in a Latino market, mismatched/misspelled signage (chunk meat, horganic eggs), narrow aisles (by American standards) and bric-a-brac consignment store feng shui reveals a formidable selection of charming food stuffs; the confluence of Latino, Asian and Gringo sensibilities. The produce selection is far from exhaustive, but they routinely carry enough esoteric items to please any savvy consumer. The fish showcase is far and away the best in area –not luxury fish, but excellent quality and recently labeled with origins. Whole fish, scaled and gutted to order. Never been touched by a knife, packed under ice. Spanish mackerel, mullet, pompano, striped bass, flounder, porgy, white bass, squid mantles, perch, croaker, freshwater sheephead, bluefish, catfish and vermillion snapper (*erroneously labeled as red snapper*), butterfish, blood clams, surf clams, head-on shrimp (not wild), etc…no more than $8/lb -leave a gratuity in the tip jar if they filet it for you. And say "hello", "please" and "thank you."
Though the land based proteins are pre-cut (pork and beef can be cut to order at the prodigious grain & dried legume "El Progreso" 3158 MtP st, down the street), beef, pork and chicken parts/offal are readily available (tongues, tripe, hearts, livers, gizzards, tails, ears, smoked hocks, bellies, and so on) and when asked nicely, they will provide whole/uncut items if they have them. While the meats make no claims of small scale local quality and consciousness, the variety is simply unmatched.
Acceptable beer & wine offerings, multitudes of spices and dried chilies, salt cod, smoked herring, crema, fresh Central American cheese, lots of rice, rice noodles, fruit nectars, Asian condiments, frozen quail and rabbit (better than no quail or rabbit), occasionally Confucius style (head & feet on) chickens, 10 for $1 limes, 4 for $1 lemons, tropical fruit and for those privy to the tiki bar hangover curing properties of $6 Pedialyte, the Latino $4 Suero-Oral counterpart comes in horchata, mango, pineapple and coconut flavors.