When I see my neighbors at my door holding a covered plate I get excited because they are fantastic cooks who often bring me treats. Except this delicacy was not from their kitchen; it was deep-fried take-out fish from 99 Ranch Market’s seafood department where they scoop live fish out of a big tank, “dress” them (euphemism for remove guts and slash the skin) and toss them otherwise whole in the deep fryer.
I gratefully accepted the gift and sketched it instead of eating it since I prefer my fish grilled, not deep-fried. Then I gave the fish to my tenant who enjoyed the nice dinner.
Today I returned the plate with a little thank you card featuring the fish.
The shoppers at Ranch 99 Chinese supermarket were in festive spirits and the store was decked out in red and gold for Lunar New Year. There were red envelopes, red lanterns, brilliant green Narcissus in fuchsia foil wrappers, special treats in red and gold boxes, and bunches of simulated fire-crackers hanging from stop-sign shaped objects that said something in Chinese, but probably not “Stop.”
I found an empty corner in the produce section to sketch from and used a shopping cart as a table for my paints. It was an odd juxtaposition to see the “Shoplifters Will be Prosecuted” sign on a post right below the huge “Happy Lunar New Year” banner.
Whenever we sketch at Pacific East Mall, the Asian marketplace where Ranch 99 is located, I’m always surprised how the shoppers show absolutely no interest or curiosity in our odd activities. We might as well be invisible.
Even though I was tired at the end of the evening, I couldn’t resist drawing the fresh fish on ice when I saw their names: Chuckle Fish and Mullets. I wonder what Chuckle Fish is in Chinese?
Their huge fish department always smells as fresh as the sea, unlike the horrible ammonia scent at my local Lucky’s. The live crabs and lobsters swim in tanks and the fish are displayed whole. The fish mongers cut them to order and will even deep fry them for you.
You can see Cathy’s great sketches from the evening here and Micaela’s here on our Urban Sketchers blog. Being graphic designers they both have such wonderful design sense!
P.S. I just discovered that the store’s name is “99 Ranch” not “Ranch 99” although neither makes much sense to me. According to Wikipedia, in Chinese numerology, 99 means “doubly long in time, hence eternal; used in the name of a popular Chinese-American supermarket chain, 99 Ranch Market.”