Shop the cuisine: Asian grocery stores

Cooking a meal is one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a different country without hopping on a plane. Getting to know the flavors, ingredients and cooking techniques embraced abroad provides insight that can't be gleaned from reading a book or watching a movie. In recent years, the international aisles of supermarkets have grown and vastly improved, making culinary exploration easier and more accessible. But there is still no substitute for shopping at a market that specializes in a particular cuisine. The food of Asian cultures, especially, often requires ingredients that can't be found just anywhere. Fortunately, in and around the Baltimore area, numerous Asian grocery stores carry ingredients that are difficult to find in regular grocery stores. From the famously smelly durian fruit and unusual types of tea to dried jellyfish and seemingly infinite varieties of noodles, Baltimore's Asian shops — and their shopkeepers — have you covered.

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