On sites such as Yahoo! Local, there is included a list of fewer than 10 grocery stores based in Indiana. Of those grocery stores, only one can truly be referred to as "ethnic," offering food from cultures different from ours. This cultural food market is, quite simply, titled "Asian Market."
The South 7th Street grocery store is lined with ingredients typically found in- you guessed it- Asian foods. A special section appears to be devoted to foreign spices, namely from India, and share a home with imports from nations in East Asia, such as China and Japan. The name "Asian Market" casts a sort of figurative umbrella over cuisine hailing from the Asian continent as a whole as opposed to focusing on one or two countries from that area. This came as a minor surprise to me, especially when one considers the "Asian" supermarkets I'm typically accustomed to.
As a student at IUP, I came to Indiana for one thing alone:
education. Prior to this, I had spent my entire life in central New Jersey.
This particular area can be described as a cultural melting pot, bringing all
different types of people with various ethnicities and heritages. Therefore,
when I initially imagined an Asian supermarket, I envisioned this little gem
out of East Brunswick.
(Photo Courtesy of City-Data.com; http://www.city-data.com/businesses/414934679-hong-kong-supermarket-east-brunswick-nj.html)
The Hong Kong Supermarket is, to put it plainly, huge. It
offers aisles of groceries unheard of by many who have not had the privilege to
trek outside the United States.
The "Asian Market" in Indiana is roughly a quarter of the
size of the aforementioned supermarket. While this store may not stack up to
the super-store above, it's certainly admirable and intriguing that there's a
shop of this nature in Indiana. At any rate, it beats going to Martin's or Giant
Eagle hoping to find exotic ingredients unlikely to be found stocking the
shelves. Slightly reminiscent of convenience stores, "Asian Market" also offers products other than food items while still managing to maintain an air of diversity.
You may be wondering why the existence of an ethnic grocery store is even of remote importance. The reason is actually quite simple: the town of Indiana itself appears to be less diverse than the campus it wraps itself around. However, if there is room for a grocery store dedicated to Asian cuisine, then there's certainly room for more culturally-diverse shops.
Next week, this look at Indiana's relationship to foreign culture will take a bit of a turn as I will explore Joelle Dietrick's The Sherman Series at IUP's Kipp Gallery. The exhibit seeks to delve into modern-day nomads with a focus on female travelers coping with this unconventional way of living.