Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Winchester Farmer's Market

Today I stopped by one of my favorite places in Memphis, the Winchester Farmer’s Market, to pick up some more organic coconut milk for the saturated fat experiment that I started recently. The massive Hickory Hill store is located in a former Schnuck’s grocery location at Winchester and Kirby Parkway across the street from the World Overcomers megachurch and its giant, notoriously garish rendition of the Statue of Liberty holding up a giant cross.

As I mentioned in my post on Big Daddy's Pawn Shop, the Hickory Hill area has seen a lot of interesting reuse of its former big-box retailers. The Winchester Farmer’s Market isn’t an actual farmer’s market. It is a huge ethnic grocery store. When you enter the store, you walk through a tremendous produce section with every type of fruit and vegetable you can imagine, plus some of them that you have probably never seen before.

 There are signs at the store's entrance prohibiting photography, so I had to do guerrilla photography while pretending to text with my phone. 

The rest of the store is roughly divided in the middle with Hispanic foods on the eastern side and Asian foods to the west. If you like to cook traditional foods from other parts of the world, the store is an invaluable resource. I can easily spend an hour browsing the products on display even when I’m not shopping for anything specific. 

The Hispanic section includes an entire aisle of nothing but hot sauces, salsas and dried pepper.

This is the rice aisle in the Asian section.

The butcher department is along the back wall and it specializes in the art of real butchering, as in breaking down whole animal carcasses into all their edible components. People in the modern-day United States tend to have a squeamish disconnect from the meat they consume, and an unhealthy obsession with bland, flavorless cuts of meat like chicken breasts and beef fillets. But around the world, including soul food here, “eat the entire animal" is an integral, universal element of healthy cultural food traditions. That being said, even as someone who cooks at home with heart, liver, kidney and tongue, I’ll pass on the bull testicles. But if you have a recipe that calls for them, or just about any other part of any livestock, the Winchester Farmer’s Market has you covered.

The selection of beef cuts includes, from left;, brains, testicles, tendon and tongue. 

 The pig and cow heads are all piled together in one cooler, so you may have to dig a little to find the variety you need.

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