Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Dumpling Roundup and How to Shop for Isolationville

The roundup of Waiter, There's Something in My...Dumpling is up at The Passionate Cook this morning. A lot of gyoza/wonton/potsticker varieties are there keeping mine company, alongside some delicious-looking sweet dumplings.

The Passionate Cook wonders, quite sensibly, how I get gyoza wrappers in Isolationville, and the answer is that I don't. Like virtually everyone else in and around Isolationville, I have a very large deep freeze in my garage and it is a depository for all things unavailable in our isolation. Mine tends to have a pretty good stock of things like edamame, gyoza wrappers, frozen herbs, and the frozen bounty of our local landscape: fish and berries. And Trader Joe's treats, of course. The non-local stuff comes via return trips from the World Out There, when we stuff coolers and ship boxes full of all kinds of things we can't get here.

We don't do quite as much stocking-up as some people do. In part, that's because Husband's job takes him out of Isolationville with regularity, though not frequency, and so we don't usually need to keep more than two months of exotics on hand. It's also because we don't have the ready cash it takes to do it properly. Between the actual food costs and the shipping, we typically spend $400-700 on a shopping trip in The City, not counting the car rental and hotel. Some folks spend thousands.

A typical day includes two trips each to CostCo, an Asian/International grocery, a health food store, and a regular supermarket/department store. The first trips are for non-perishables, which get packed and shipped parcel post or via the airline's special food freight services. You only get the special food rates if you're shipping over a hundred pounds, so if we're taking all the perishables as checked luggage, we sometimes don't have enough for that. The second trips are last-minute for frozen stuff. We can ship that via the airline, and sometimes do, but if we've only been away for a short time and don't have a lot of luggage, it's easier to take a cooler with us and then check it on the way home, full of goodies.

Right now, we're in the middle of a four-month stretch with no relief from Isolationville, and our food stores are showing it. We've actually just placed a desperation order with one of the services that shop and ship for you. Unfortunately, there were some things I wanted (like another bottle of sweet chili sauce) that weren't available, so now I'm going to have to hope that the store in The Other Town has it. They do a very good job of trying to stock a lot of different things in a small store with a tiny customer base, so they might have it.

Living in Isolationville is a lesson in how to make do with what you can get. My cooking and eating habits have changed radically since moving here, not necessarily for the better. But I'm learning to get around the limitations, and I'm actually using this blog and especially the food blogging events to push myself to be more aggressive in pushing the limits of our food-procuring possibilities.

No comments:

Post a Comment