We’re up in the Vermilion area for Kish’s high school reunion. When’re staying in Linwood, a long-standing community that has a great beach by Lake Erie standards. Some thoughtful soul has already assembled a pile of driftwood for the bonfire later tonight.
In addition to allowing me to experience the succulent dumplings of Momo Ghar, my recent journey to Morse Road with Dr. Science also introduced me to the wonders of the Saraga international grocery store, where Momo Ghar is located.
Saraga is found in one of the ubiquitous Morse Road strip malls and is housed in what used to be a Toys ‘R Us store. Many people consider it to be the finest ethnic grocery store in Columbus. If ethnic food shoppers can be said to vote with their feet, that view may be right — when we were there Thursday afternoon, the place was packed with people of all stripes, buying all kinds of food that would be considered absurdly exotic and wouldn’t be found in your standard American supermarket.
You know that you’re going to a different kind of grocery store when the first thing you encounter on your way in is an enormous crate of watermelon-sized, and disturbingly textured, jackfruit — which looks like the kind of fruit aliens should be slobbering over in a Star Trek scene. But the jackfruit is a pretty mild surprise compared to what you find inside the store. There’s an entire aisle of different kinds of frozen “pot sticker” dumplings, for example, and the place is packed with every imaginable kind of sauce and spice, heaps of unusual produce, a halal butcher shop, a Mexican bakery, a bustling fish shop, large sacks of different kinds of rice, cooking implements, and even clothing. The meat aisle is particularly impressive, with lamb, goat cubes, prepackaged duck feet, and “fresh turkey tail,” among other options. I knew that some cultures like duck feet, but I found myself wondering where in the world people might confess to a hankering for some good old fresh turkey tail.
What Saraga tells you is that Columbus has a large and diverse immigrant population, which is one of the many things that make our community a cool place to live. I’ll be back because I’d like to take a closer look at that pot sticker aisle and browse around in search of something interesting to have for dinner. And now I know where to go if I run across a particularly mouthwatering jackfruit and turkey tail recipe.