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Above: Saigon Market is located on Kerr Avenue near the intersection of Market Street and offers a wide variety of packaged items and fresh produce, such as plantains, shown above, right. Opposite, center: Indian bitter melon. Opposite, from top left: Lien Nguyen holds a fresh shipment of duck eggs that sell out during the weekend; Saigon’s large variety of Southeast Asian candies; a plethora of rices; water spinach and chinese broccoli are some of its exotic staples. 90 WBM february 2015 Saigon Market Oriental and Hispanic Foods Just down the street, at the corner of South Kerr Avenue and Franklin Street, Saigon Market Oriental and Hispanic Foods stocks a bevy of items from points farther east. Though it’s certainly the place to track down the makings of a Vietnamese feast, don’t be fooled by the name. Saigon Market carries foods familiar to the cuisines of China, India, Africa and elsewhere. Possibly the only place in town to buy fufu flour, an African staple, Saigon Market also offers halal goat meat, pomegranate molasses and durian — a fruit so stinky, it has reportedly been banned on public trans-portation in some places. The market stocks plenty of foods unfamiliar to the Southern-American palate, but perhaps none is as unusual as balut — duck eggs still developing embryos. Owner Lan Washington suggests boiling balut and serving them simply with salt, pepper and a little fresh rau ram, a peppery Vietnamese green. Washington opened Saigon Market more than 20 years ago, in a 200-square-foot space, at a time when she did not anticipate living in Wilmington for the long term. “When I started out, I just thought it was some-thing to do for a while,” she says. Over the decades, the business moved and expanded several times. It now covers several adjoining store-fronts and includes a room filled mostly with different types of coffees and teas and another housing large sacks of various types of rice. “The rice we sell lots of,” Washington says. “People eat lots of rice. … Everybody eats it.” Aisles in the middle of the store carry produce, spices, jarred sauces and snack foods, including tama-rind candy and, somewhat incongruously, bags of “vegetarian cracklins.” Many of the foods Washington sells are at home in the cuisines of multiple cultures. “Vietnamese, Chinese and Filipino and Thai, we eat about the same things. We just cook it different,” Washington says. But Japanese food, she says, is in a category all its own. “They go for seaweed,” Washington says. “We don’t go for that.”


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