Two months ago, the United States held “A Day Without Immigrants.” This boycott and protest was held to show the importance of immigrants in society.
To be honest, I never really thought about the immigrant experience even though I’m the daughter of an immigrant, and also the granddaughter of an immigrant who went through Angel Island (twice). While I may not be a proper immigrant because I plan to return home, I am getting a better picture of what it must be like since living out here.
It’s freaking hard.
I have it easier. I didn’t have to learn another language. I don’t have to work multiple jobs.
But it’s hard adjusting to a different culture. It’s uncomfortable. You have to do things on your own. It’s hard to make friends and it’s really hard to get used to the food.
This is why I am so thankful for the immigrant-owned small businesses here in the UK. Thank you for all you do to make me feel at home. you sell me sinigang soup packets, kimchee, and MSG crackers. You drive me to work when it’s cold and rainy. You make me wonton noodle soup when I’m sick and you aren’t surprised when I ask for hot water (instead of ice water).
So today, I’d thought I’d share and recommend one those businesses.
This is Bismillah Food Store. It’s a halal grocery store about a half mile away from our flat. Even though I don’t have a Muslim background, this little halal shop gives me a sense of familiarity that helps me get through the hard days. Bismillah is like my Chinatown fruit and vegetable stands on Stockton Street. It’s a little dirty. It smells like eastern spices and raw meats. There are price signs made out of cardboard boxes, and just I love it! For a reason I cannot describe in words, there is also something special about being in a public place with another ethnic minority. It’s comforting and I feel a sense of community. It also helps that the meat is cheaper than Tesco (Tesco’s chicken thighs are £5.84/kg while it’s only £2.99/kg at Bismillah!). They close late (9:30pm), but you should get there earlier so they don’t run out of the good stuff.
Anyways, check it out. The guys at the butcher stand are very helpful. They sell chicken, beef, lamb, fresh naan, and a ton of awesome spices. Oh, and they have oxtail for £5.49/kg (that’s like $2.50/lb!!). I think it’s time for some more kare-kare!