I love to go shopping in Asian stores where exotic foods can be found. Exotic, I should say, to me. In Asia these foods would not, of course, be exotic. This is what I tell myself when I try something new: to somebody in the world, this is normal food and there are MILLIONS of people who have judged the food and decided it is good to eat.
So, relying on the collective judgment of unknown masses, I am happy to try almost anything, even silkworm larvae, click here.
But I can see some Asian foods have names that don't translate very well for an American audience. For example, the word "fungus." This is not a word Americans embrace when it comes to their food. It is a word we associated with filth or disease. And yet Asian stores consistently sell ingredients packaged as "white fungus" and "black fungus" which are a common ingredient in many Asian dishes.
A few days ago, however, I went into Bangkok Market (one of my favorite stores in North Minneapolis) and I saw this product for sale: Dried Tremella.
I recognize the product as one-and-the-same with "white fungus," but it's clearly somebody has figured out "dried tremella" is a much more marketable name than "white fungus."
The next logical question would be: What to call black fungus? The names I looked up on Wikipedia are not very appetizing: Cloud ear fungus, hairy wood ear, tree ear or (my personal favorite) ear fungus. Clearly, something more creative (yet accurate) will be needed to package this common Asian cooking ingredient for American tastes.