1. When you walk into one, you are met with a dangerously pungent mystery smell.
2. (That you can only blame on the unfortunate mixture of dried fish and durian fruit.)
3. You’ve plucked “fresh” produce from cardboard boxes.
Or, if they’re slightly a more upscale establishment, plastic containers.
4. And it doesn’t even matter if they’re fresh. They’re ridiculously cheap.
5. You’ve had to stand idly by with the shopping cart as your mother expertly selects one bundle of bok choy over another.
6. You’ve seen it all and nothing fazes you.
8. You can purchase fine pottery in the same vicinity as live octopus and fermented duck eggs.
9. But you have to maneuver those aisles carefully ‘cause you know the consequences.
And they’re not playing.
10. You’ve witnessed a butcher dismember and package an entire duck in literally under 10 seconds.
11. You’ve watched your mother lift and sling a 70-pound bag of rice like a fucking champ.
(You’ve tried and struggled.)
12. You and your family have been buying the same groceries your entire life, and you still don’t quite know what they are.
I don’t know what you call these, but when you sautée them, it’s fucking delicious.
13. You’re extremely grateful of establishments that have a slightly higher standard of order and cleanliness.
14. Because when it’s Saturday afternoon and all the families are out, it is every-man-for-himself anarchy.
As a kid, you were always assigned to watch the cart at HQ while your parents ran back and forth.
15. You used to watch the live crabs crawl all over each other and wonder how they haven’t figured out how to escape.
17. Except those moments when they mean everything (and no one else around you quite notices or cares).
18. You rarely need to exchange a single word with the cashier.
No small talk here: strictly business.
19. And there is usually no scanner because they somehow know the prices of EVERYTHING OFF TOP.
AND THEY’RE JUST MANUALLY TYPING IT IN WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT THE PRICE STICKER. HOWWWWWWWWW.
20. But that’s OK: Your total will always be under $100, and you have a trunkload of food.
21. Somehow, to this day, most Asian supermarkets are still cash only.
(But let’s be real: No matter how big, most stores still don’t want to pay that credit card processing fee.)
22. You and your family have been going to the same local grocer for years now, and you’ve accepted its quirks.
23. Because it has what you really want.
JUNK FOOD AISLE = CRACK.