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The Asian Grocery Store Demystified (Take It with You Guides) Paperback – April 15, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Though many Americans are eager to cook Asian dishes at home, the thought of navigating an Asian grocery store is a different story. For a non-Asian it can be bewildering territory full of pungent aromas, packages with labels in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean or Vietnamese and odd-looking specimens you don't know whether to eat or to plant. At last there is a book that takes you by the hand and gives a clear and fascinating tour of these markets. It couldn't have a better title, The Asian Grocery Store Demystified. The author, Linda Bladholm, begins by describing the layout of an Asian grocery store in her neighborhood in Miami. As she explains, there is indeed an order to these markets. "Asian markets are generally stocked according to the principles of balance, " she writes. "Hot, spicy, chili sauces and curry pastes are all in one place; salty items are together in one row, and bitter, sour or sweet things are in other sections." That explanation changed my entire perspective, making these markets seem more manageable and interesting. Ms. Bladholm not only sorts out the cultural context of an Asian grocery store, but also does it in such a way that makes you hungry to return. -- Book Description

About the Author

Linda Bladholm is a regular contributor to the Miami Herald. She is also a designer, illustrator, and photographer who has contributed to Singapore and Asia Pacific Magazine and Big O magazine. She has designed books for Noto Publishing, and designed and illustrated for FEP/McGraw-Hill, Gunze Company, and World Books International. She resides in Miami Beach, Florida.

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Product Details

  • Series: Take It with You Guides
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Renaissance Books; 1st edition (April 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580630456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580630450
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Unfortunately I was not as enraptured with this book as most of the other reviewers. I don't feel it would be terribly useful for a beginning Asian cook.
I also found some inaccurate or less familiar descriptions; for instance many recipes call for "thick soy," which in this book is called "dark soy, or superior soy" but a novice wouldn't know those distinctions.
Additionally the book only gives one or maybe two names for the same thing; if you're cooking something from another culture confusion may reign! For instance in this book belacan (spelled blacan in most other Asian cookbooks I own), which is a common Asian ingredient, is the only word used for dried shrimp paste -- it's also known as trasi (Indonesia), kapi (Thailand) and mam tom (Vietnam). In the grocery store I have bought a wonderful paste that is packaged only under the name "trasi." Using this book, who would know?
Among its weaknesses I find the dearth a pictures a detriment. Many shoppers (like me) are quite visual and look for colors or bottle shapes. It would be more helpful to have photos of some ingredients; for instance showing the difference between bean thread noodles and rice sticks, or what a jackfruit looks like.
I found the index difficult to use. Something might be referenced in the text but not found in the index. Drives me nuts.
However, there are some strengths to this book. It's a convenient size to bring to the store and gives a nice overview. It's also helpful for the novice to have brand recommendations, but I can safesly say, having shopped for ingredients in Minnesota and California (and in Australia), that not all the same brands are imported to everywhere and that what she recommends may not be in your market.
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By A Customer on December 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
Asian food tastes good, that part is not so mysterious. As a lifelong lover of the gifts of the Oriental cornucopia, and as an occasional, bewildered visitor to Oriental markets, I have found a trustworthy guide to calm my fears and open my eyes to the logical patterns extent in Asian groceriesÉ. Sort of like seeing the tree in the structure of its leaf. BladholmÕs handy, compact guide is jam packed with a veritable taxonomy of Asian foodstuffs. After several trips, guidebook in tow, I now know my way around the numerous varieties of noodles, rice, veggies, spices, condiments, and sweets. My taste buds require fire and ice, and the yin yang organization of a typical Asian grocery that Bladholm so clearly and deftly describes, complete with charming, lovingly done, little word sketches drawn from her extensive Asian travels, as well as her uncannily accurate, line drawings helps to make a trip to the Asian grocery store as easy as apple pie and ice cream, just substitute the apples with pomegranates and the pie with soy bean paste confections that boggle the palette as well as the eye. Hers is a great book, it does what it title claims. It is a totally demystifying experience!
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Format: Paperback
The author does a great job of shedding some light on some of the lesser known cuisines of Asia--such as Korea and Cambodia. That is not to say that the more familiar cuisines of China and Japan are not covered. She explains many of the more esoteric ingredients and herbs of those countries as well. A really useful book for both the beginner, interested in expanding their culinary horizons, and the more advanced who don't have the ability to read asian languages--I've cooked Asian foods for many years, and still find myself stumped with trying to figure out what the heck to do with an ingredient. I usually ask someone, but I now have a resource to turn to, to supplement my information. Also, a plus is the size of the book--it will neatly fit into one's back pocket or purse. Well done!
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Format: Paperback
I have been regularly venturing into various Asian markets for many years, and although in doing so I have gained some knowledge of the basics of Asian cooking, there is still a vast amount I didn't know until I bought this book. The Asian Grocery Store Demystified finally answers many of the questions I've had for years, but was hesitant to ask the store owner. The book is based on the author's frequent visits to a Chinese grocery store, therefore other Asian cultures get a light treatment. However, by itself Chinese cooking is vast and varied, and it would probably be impossible for any one book to cover the full range of food items to be found, so I give her credit for covering what she did, including various other Asian foods. There are no photos, and I feel that the more uninitiated cook of Asian cuisine will be at a bit of a loss without them, but the author does a good job of describing much of what you will often find, and the random drawings help. The book includes descriptions of the basic cooking utensils, cooking techniques, a brief glossary, and a smattering of recipes from different Asian cultures. I particularly appreciate the author's encouragement of the reader to try food items that the stranger to Asian cuisines might otherwise wrinkle his or her nose to.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This small paperback not only demystifies the Asian grocery, but also the Asian recipe and menu. I was able to quickly look up items that I couldn't spell but had long been curious about because the book is organized by the sections in the grocery. After quenching my initial curiosities, I had to sit down and read the interesting book cover to cover. Each ingredient is discussed as to appearance, taste, texture, uses, history and quality with references to preferred brands or possible substitutes. There are a few basic recipes included to try right away, but this book best serves as a supplement to other Asian and vegetarian cookbooks and in preparation for shopping or dining. My only disappointment was not finding the recipe for Sweet Thai Tea listed in the index but omitted from the content.
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