Tubers and Squash
A different kind of Thanksgiving: traditional calabaza pumpkins, available year-round, true yams (that look more like firewood than sweet potatoes), plus lots of additional South American and African tubers.
In addition to the tilapia shown here, the market also offers live catfish, crawfish, blue crabs, dungeness crabs, lobsters, and sometimes shrimp and other seafood. On ice, they offer two dozen kinds of shrimp, whole sharks, carp, snapper, octopus, and more. They even carry dried salt cod and baby octopus in the freezer section.
Rambutan and Dragon Fruit
Thai Rabbit Curry
Of course, I had to make a dish using the amazing bounty of the market. I chopped up a rabbit and covered it in a paste of garlic, Thai bird chiles, ground cumin, olive oil, lemongrass, lime juice, and black pepper. After browning some minced shallots I added unsweetened coconut cream and a dash of Thai fish sauce. The rabbit slow cooked for two hours and then I added a handful of chopped Thai basil and served the dish over a bed of fragrant jasmine rice.
Cordova Farmer's Market
My local source for great foods from around the world.
This is a section devoted just to aloe-based beverages, made from the same aloe vera plant that you can use to treat sunburn. Most of the green bottles you see are just basic aloe drinks, flavored with honey. It's tart and sweet and refreshing, with little gelatinous bits of aloe floating around. There are obviously many other flavor variations.
Cuttlefish and Peanut Snack
This is a great example of truth in advertising: this cuttlefish and peanut snack leaves very little to the imagination, aside from wondering what it tastes like. This aisle has Japanese/Korean/Chinese treats on one side and Mexican snacks on the other.
"When you go to the store, grab some eggplant." Wizened glance, twirling of the beard; "What kind of eggplant would you like?" If we can ever get the little Italian white eggplants here, I will be in heaven, and I can also explain to everyone how that vegetable got its name.
That's a couple of yards of beef pizzle, which is the polite term for the baby-making part of a bull. They're frozen and kept in the same freezer unit where I regularly grab quail, rabbit, and duck. I haven't tried this particular cut of beef yet, but I am a pretty adventurous cook.
Garlic Scapes and Thai Basil
A pack of garlic scapes for 77¢ and a bunch of Thai basil for $1.40. One of the best parts about the international market is the availability of inexpensive and fresh herbs that can lend a lot of flavor to any dish. Try getting those together at a gourmet food store for under $5, and I can guarantee they'll be in smaller portions.
Goat and lamb are available in both halal and conventional forms. Legs, ribs, shoulders, even various pieces of burnt goat. I recently slow smoked an entire halal foreleg of goat and made tacos with it for days afterward.
Jackfruit and Banana Flower
Japanese Sweet Corn
I am constantly fascinated by this Japanese corn in the freezer section. A Native American crop exported to Japan, and imported back into my local grocery store. And I can easily grow sweet corn in my backyard, like my family did when I was a little kid. Also, quick note for advertising nerds on the presence of a food cannibal mascot with the smiling kernel of corn.
The kimchi is kept in a separate refrigerator. Having made the stuff from scratch before and enduring a following month of kimchi-flavored ice cubes, I can appreciate this.
Manzano peppers are bigger than habaneros, have thicker walls, and have a milder, apple-flavored profile. On top of that they have hairy leaves and black seeds, making them a little odd in the chili family, but the the flavor is incredible and after fire roasting, the manzano is a great addition to homemade salsa.
25 kg bags of rice in dozens of varieties. This is truly the United Nations gathering spot for the Cordova Farmer's Market, because most of the world consumes rice in some form. Where else in Memphis are you going to see West Africans bump carts with Sri Lankans and Jamaicans?
Ricky Joy Yogurty Drink
The dairy case is loaded with hundreds of tiny bottles of Ricky Joy Yogurty Drink from China. I have not tried this, but I often see a few flats on the bottom of fellow shoppers' carts.