International food, flavors and produce are hot.
It’s not just because of the growing number of immigrants who seek foods and flavors of their homeland.
Consumers — 18- to 31-year-old millennials in particular — are exposed to different cuisines through travel, social settings and cooking shows, and they want to duplicate them at home.
The changing tastes haven’t gone unnoticed. In talking to several Lone Star State distributors and wholesalers for The Packer’s recent Texas Know Your Market section, they told me they’d seen increased demand for specialty produce items.
Nowhere is the multicultural environment more evident than in the Metroplex — the local term for the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
Drive just a few miles within Plano, Texas, and you can shop at Fiesta Mart, which caters to Hispanics; Taj Grocery and Farmers Market, which focuses on Indian and Pakistani consumers; and Jusgo Supermarket, which targets Asian shoppers.
My brother routinely travels the 10 miles from McKinney, Texas, to shop at Jusgo. He falls into the category of having been exposed to different cultures and their foods over the years and wanting to try his hand at them.
On the recent Saturday I visited Jusgo, the produce department was packed with shoppers seeking a myriad of greens, mushrooms the likes of which I’ve never seen before, Chinese okra, winter bamboo and a host of other unusual vegetables. Most of the greens had been packed in plastic bags at the store level as evident by the printing on the bags.
But that didn’t seem to dissuade consumers, who were snatching up pak choy, kai lan and poh choi, to name a few.
I really wanted to join them, grab some of the greens and take them home to try in a stir-fry. With Google, it’s easy to type in a name and pull up a list of tasty recipes in an instant.
My brother had warned me not to ask fellow shoppers how to cook various produce items. He recalled being admonished by grandmotherly types more than once who told him, “If you have to ask how to cook it, you shouldn’t be buying it.”
But that didn’t discourage my brother — he bought the vegetables and experimented with them.
Like my brother, I’m usually up for a culinary adventure, and my field trip to Jusgo just whetted my appetite.
But the jars of vegetable meat fluff stacked in a large entryway display? Those were a little bit too daunting, even for my curiosity.
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