This week’s listmaker: Sarah Murrell. Sarah’s a Broad Ripple photographer, makeup artist, and other things that make her parents wish she would get a haircut and a real job. She will try anything twice and never backs down from a double-dog dare.
1. Saraga International Grocery. Like walking into an edible episode of Hoarders, the first thing you notice upon entering Saraga is the strange smell, followed by a sense that there once was order and now there is semi-ordered chaos. Produce is kept more or less separate from meat and fish, which is kept pretty much separate from dry goods and refrigerated items. But there is one thing you can always count on at Saraga: if you have an obscure item on your shopping list that made a Marsh employee get that constipated, confused look on his face, Saraga has it. They’ll sell you every kind of noodle from Amish Egg to Udon. Need dried seaweed? They have it in sheets so big you could print concert posters on it. Halal and Kosher meats, flour made of anything grind-able the world over, and so many different parts of cow available for sale that I had to call my farm-raised father to identify them by description. (“Hello, Dad? What part of a cow is tripe? Oh. Oh, my god, no. Why would anyone eat that?!”) And when it comes to bulk shopping, Saraga blows Sam’s Club and Costo out of the water; at some point during your trip, you will stand in front of towers of bulk rice talking yourself down from the incredible deal that is a 40lb bag of jasmine rice for fifteen bucks! For the busy bachelorette on a budget, like myself, the store also carries a mean variety of fast-cooking frozen foods from around the world like gyoza, samosas, fully-cooked sushi eel, and bao. My point here is, if you’re into cooking and eating a little on the wild side, Saraga is a funhouse of culinary bedlam. It used to be divided neatly by country or region, but those signs have been removed, either for a stronger sense of global unity, or so that employees can watch non-regulars wandering aimlessly back and forth between aisles. In the words of Jack Donaghy, “There are no rules, like check-in at an Italian airport.” But it is definitely worth a look around, if only to check “Smell raw durian fruit” off your foodie bucket list.
2. The Naptown Roller Girls. The NRG don’t need any more plugging or proclamations of their awesomeness, but I feel compelled. There are few Saturday activities I enjoy more than going to roller derby bouts, because I can’t think of any other event that combines all-female, ass-kicking, bone-crunching contact sports, delicious local beer and food, and a drinking game officiated by the announcers and played by the couple thousand people in attendance. The bout experience has only gotten better, and this year they’ve added a few Indiana brewery-stocked beer stands (NRG has long been selling Sun King on the stadium floor) where you can get a pint or 4-beer tasting flight, and has also kicked out many of the crappy Pepsi Coliseum food vendors in favor of locals like Just Wingin’ It. And as for your hometown team, the NRG is ranked 19th in the nation out of 135 roller derby teams—all volunteer players and coaches. At their last bout, they stomped a Toronto team so bad (266 to 67), the human CN Tower mascot they brought along actually wept, and seeing an anthropomorphized 1,800-foot tall building symbolic of an entire nation cry stirs a powerful sense of victory and national pride. Or maybe that’s the product of your second flight of Indiana beer.
3. Soup base in a can. The debate rages on about whether homemade stock is better than store-bought stock, but as much as I’d like to stand around in the kitchen boiling chicken bones and vegetables Ina Garten style, I have work and lots of drinking to do. Pick up a can of chicken or beef stock concentrate and your soup-making life will get a whole lot easier. Unlike buying liquid stock, it doesn’t take up a ton of space in cabinets and it’s a lot more cost-effective. And unlike bullion, it’s not dry and utterly disgusting because, as a paste, it still has plenty of fat in it to get that richness you need for a good soup. Whenever you need some stock, scoop out a spoonful or two and dissolve it into hot water before pouring that bad boy into your stock pot or over some rice for a bump of the chicken-y je ne sais quoi.
4. Gary Fong Light Sphere. Standard flash photography makes everyone look terrible: shiny, bloated, tired, and wrinkly—like Newt Gingrich at his last wedding. I’ve heard that photographers who don’t know what they’re doing often use light diffusers like the Gary Fong Light Sphere, and while that may or may not be true, all I know is that my diffuser makes my photos (especially event photos) look stunning. When your location will not permit flash bouncing (pointing it at a big white surface to diffuse the intensity of the flash), a diffuser will do the same job brilliantly, smoothing Grandma’s deeper wrinkles and giving everyone that rested, brightened look. Every amateur and professional should have one. It’s totally overpriced for what it is (an opaque piece of Tupperware with a Velcro strap), but it will be better than any version you could make at home. And Mr. Fong even made a pretty cool little version for point-and-shoot cameras for about $15. Trust me when I tell you that after you try one, you won’t shoot any photos without it.
5. Hoarders. And . . . back to disorder and chaos. Turn on Hoarders. Do it. The show itself is not that entertaining to me, but it does create a kind of stressed-out, unquenchable desire to throw away everything I own. It’s like a Tony Robbins motivational speech pushing me toward organizing my life, except Tony’s holding two sawed-off shot guns, and he’s coming down from a 5-day coke bender and he’s on ’roids. There is no arguing with that urge. Even better than one episode are the multi-episode marathons, where you can watch six or eight people argue with their loved ones over tattered towels or their ninth set of collectible Pepsi glasses. Usually, one of those hoarders will repeat a phrase that I’ve heard inside my own head while trying to justify keeping something, and before you can say “plumbing-less bathroom filled with soiled adult diapers,” that item of mine is in my building’s dumpster.