pho king, ace.

Today's Surreal American Moment found me pushing a gargantuan shopping cart complete with Ritz-cracker-eating toddler in it through a suburban Phoenix Asian megasuperstore called Lee Lee's, and seeing the very same Verkade cookies that I see every day in Amsterdam (literally marked up 500%) on the shelf, along with stroopwafels, marzipan, poffertjes, speculaas, and a full-height shelf of other Dutch products.

Actually, the most surreal part was that I had 1) a shopping cart with 2) a toddler in it. A very well-behaved toddler in fact, who spent much of our time there helpfully pointing out things he thought I might find interesting such as pineapples or live catfish. My own attention was caught by a wealth of fresh herbs and produce that I haven't seen very often in Amsterdam: pea shoots, shiso leaves, mehti (fenugreek), curry leaves, chrysanthemum leaves, and lots more that I didn't recognize.

After which, the boys and their grandmother went to McDonald's for Happy Meals (I'm shrugging helplessly here), and I went next door to the Vietnamese restaurant attached to Lee Lee's called Pho 68, and picked up some pho to go. This was the only Asian restaurant I've ever set foot in that didn't have a paper version of their menu available for you to take home with you. You know, for take-out.

Anyway, I mention that bit because it's why I don't have the proper nomenclature for anything here, so I'm reduced to describing things in "American". Along with our pho I picked up some fresh spring rolls and a spicy chicken something. Spring rolls:

The pho was very good after a healthy shot of sriracha, but while all the rest of the food was fine, fresh, competently done...it was a little on the bland side (Mara's spring rolls are better). Still, a nice inexpensive and unexpected light lunch from a cuisine that isn't very prevalent in Amsterdam.

And yes, those are Holiday Plates.

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