A brief thought crossed my mind when I saw pictures my wife had posted on social media during one of her trips this year to South Korea and China:

A brief thought crossed my mind when I saw pictures my wife had posted on social media during one of her trips this year to South Korea and China:


    Accompanying several photos that showed some crazy looking mushroom-type things, noodles that looked like albino worms, a bunch of unruly looking black floppy things, my wife wrote words to the effect of, "Yummy! Black wild fungus! Can't wait to try this when I get back home!"


    Fast forward to now, after a second work-related trip by my wife to every corner of China you can get a plane or train to, and, boy, have we tried some of "yummy" black wild fungus. And those mushroomy-type things, too. And the noodles, we're eating those, too. Whether it's all in dried/dehydrated form in bags in a kitchen cupboard or whether my wife has boiled them and they're in containers in the refrigerator, we've tried it all, and we continue to try it all. My wife has a tendency to be tremendously enthusiastic when certain things catch her fancy, and Asian cuisine has most definitely caught her fancy.

    She’s not entirely alone.

    If I could press rewind and go back to the moment I saw all those photos my wife posted, my initial, prematurely doomsday thought of "uh-oh" might be replaced with something more along the lines of, "Oh, well, would you look at that? I'm certainly going to do my best to keep an open mind about this and see if I sort of like all this weird, alien-resembling food, too!"

    The big plus in all of this is that we've discovered a fairly amazing Asian food market in Grand Forks that has all of the cuisine my wife has been hell-bent on introducing into our family’s diet. It's located in the old South Forks Plaza mall, and the staff are happy to see you and they are experts in helping you find exactly what you're looking for, and how to best prepare it if you’re in over your head.

    As a result, the contents of our kitchen drawers, cupboards and especially the fridge have undergone a transformation. Sure, there's still plenty of Mexican delights, and pasta and sauces and good old, reliable red meat. Ranch dressing is still its own food group.

    But if you opened our fridge and didn't know the cuisine-related changes that our household has undergone, you might find yourself wondering if the Christophersons had up and skipped town.

    I possess a long-held affinity for condiments. If there was a certain psychosis related to a particular manic state or obsessed compulsion for things that you pour on top of food or dip food into, I might be a candidate for a pilot study on that mental illness malady.

    Sure, we always have the big, 64-ounce jug of Heinz ketchup, and when that gets to be about half gone, a backup is purchased in placed in the second fridge in the garage. But, beyond that, I get a little particular. I crave variety. Choices. So we have around three types of hot, spicy and sweet mustard, and possibly enough steak sauces to butcher our own cattle.

    But now that we've introduced a consistent rotation of Asian cuisine into our home, and trips to that Asian market? Well, I've gone a bit nuts. Chili oils, chili pastes, peanut sauces, sweet Thai chili sauces, and a variety of vinegars. Just typing “vinegars” right now has caused my salivary glands to unleash liquid salvos into the sides of  my mouth. This stuff will make you feel alive.

    I am not about to turn the bedrock cornerstones of my traditional diet upside-down, but I will acknowledge this: There's a reason we here in the United States see so many TV commercials shilling so many health remedies for maladies related to digestion. There's a reason so many of us have Type II diabetes, and what is known as pre-diabetes. There's a reason so many of us are statistically overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. There's a reason heart disease is such a killer here, and hypertension caused by high blood pressure, too.

    Most of us don't get enough exercise, yes, but, more than anything, it's because of what we eat, day after day.

    If I enjoy one of my wife’s Asian meals, I don't feel afterward like I've just put on 10 pounds. But that's exactly how I feel if I devour a big burger on a big bun and a mountain of french fries.

    In fact, after enjoying some of this fungi, I feel like a fun guy.