When the ‘International Aisle’ Isn’t Enough

You hop on the light rail heading west. It’s midday Wednesday so you’re one of the only people riding it. You look out the window, taking in a landscape that still doesn’t quite feel like home. You scan the horizon for something familiar; something you can recognize. This new place is beautiful and you worked so hard to get here but still, you miss home. The bittersweet nostalgia sticks with you as the light rail bumps along its track.

You arrive downtown, Google Maps is your saving grace in a terrain you’ve yet to gain your footing in. Left, right, right, left all the way to the grocery store. This is your first time in this part of town. It’s the furthest you’ve strayed outside of campus. You’re hoping that this proves to be more fruitful than your previous grocery trips.

It’s busier in the shop than you anticipated. You scan your list:

    • Maltina

    • Plantain

    • Breadfruit

    • Habanero Peppers

    • Red Onions

    • Goat Meat

    • Maggi Cubes

    • Delta Rice

You scan the aisles. Onions, check. Peppers, check. Eggs, check. Now for the hard part. This is your third grocery trip since moving to town and each time you left without all of your ingredients. You hold your breath as you turn down the international aisle. Maybe you’ll finally have some luck checking the rest of your list off.

You spend a lot of time searching meticulously for what you need. But, as per usual, you come up empty-handed once again. You gaze down disheartened at your list, longing for a taste of home. This one aisle where so many cultures meet could never be enough to serve every immigrant’s needs. A single aisle can’t accommodate for your cherished culture and hundreds of others. 

Another person in the aisle is scanning the shelves near you. You catch their eyes and offer a brief smile, wondering if they’re on a hunt for ingredients that bring them closer to home too.

Uprooting your whole life and moving to a new country is hard enough. But it can be even more isolating when the cultural foods you hold close to your heart are so hard to come by. Immigrants, refugees and international students all meet in one place in search of ingredients: the international aisle. But with so many beautifully distinct cultures intersecting there, it’s impossible for everyone to leave with what they came looking for.

There are few solutions for finding international ingredients in the United States. The international aisle is hit or miss. Culture-specific grocery stores aren’t always accessible or even available. So what is there to do?

That’s where Ojaexpress comes in! We are here to bridge the gap for those yearning for a taste of home. All the groceries you’ve been searching for are in one spot. Our online shop is a true place to meet. We provide a place for immigrants, refugees and international students alike to finally find the ingredients they need to cook up a little slice of home right in their own kitchen. So you can enjoy quality time with the people that matter most and share your cultural food with the next generation!


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