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Is This the Cultural Diaspora? I Experience Loss and Confusion After Acme Moves Ethnic Food Section

Image by Justine Orgel

I rely on Acme to satiate my ethnic needs and wants. While I will lecture you about the virtues of Trader Joe’s (it’s from California, the snacks are tik-tokable, and the frozen food is just healthier), I concede that Trader Ming just doesn’t cut it. To the “Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings,” I say “xiao long bao,” “I’m kosher,” and a polite “no thank you.” To the cashier, I say, “debit,” “I brought my own bags,” “I sure am lucky to have bought a pack of the ever scarce hashbrowns,” and “yeah, I go between shrimp, salmon, and tofu for dinner.” I make sure to smile at the cashier who has been hired on the basis of how well their appearance aligns with the Trader Joe’s milieu. But what this cargo pant-sporting, air fryer-using, average Joe doesn’t know is that I’ve already reserved a spot in the Acme self-checkout line with my old friend Lee Kum Kee Sauce Chili Garlic - 8 Oz and if I’m feeling spicy white, I mean wasian (I’m wasian), maybe even S&B Chili Oil with Crunchy Garlic, 3.9 Ounce. 

So you’ll imagine my profound disorientation when I couldn’t find the “ethnic section” complete with tostadas, instant madras curry, white people trying to make TikTok cucumber salad, and of course, my Lee Kum Kee Sauce Chili Garlic - 8 oz. I paced and I paced. I called out, “Lee Kum Kee! Lee Kum Kee! Kum Here! Kum Here!” But it was to no avail. I even found myself in the baked goods section, a place I strongly advise against visiting lest you want to encounter a rodent-in-residence. I was just about to give up. I had the Amazon app open to Lee Kum Kee Sauce Chili Garlic - 8 Oz, same day Prime delivery when on a whim, I walked over to the place where they sell Halloween candy, hoping to buy a bag of stale Milky Way to comfort myself. It was not our galaxy that I encountered, but Lee Kum Kee!! My old buddy, old pal. Lee Kum Kee! I rejoiced. I cried. I salivated. I perused. It was beautiful. I was no longer lost, but relocated. Acme wrought great cultural upheaval but the end result was euphoric. 

The next time you want to buy a Milky Way or a Trader Joe’s guilt-free dark chocolate peanut butter cup, I strongly suggest that you head to the seasonal candy section in Acme. What you’ll find won’t be a trick, but a treat. The treat of cultural recognition.