2006-01-08

Cabbage in a jar

Just did a bit of pazarenje yesterday at the Market Basket in Chelsea, recommended by a friend for their selection of Balkan products. It is one of those huge supermarkets in which you feel a sense of accomplishment for having got from one side to the other (a local family-run chain, though, no cold dead hand of the Sainsbury Corporation here). In fact there is a small section in the eastern part of the "Ethnic" aisle, but it has many of the basic necessities: vanilla sugar, kiseli kupus from Macedonia in a jar, Bosnian mineral water. The meat section also has the right kind of suho meso for sarme and pasulj. But the real wealth of the place is in products from Central and South America. The selection is not just limited to the mediocre products of the Goya company, but includes all the sizes of dried corn a person needs, several brands of masa harina, and frozen and refrigerated pupusas and arepas. Not necessarily a wildly lucky find, but good enough to be worth some return visits. Be ready for crowds.

Update: A friend of East Ethnia observes that not everybody lives at a convenient distance from Chelsea, but that people in this category may be able to use the services of this online distributor. I have never ordered from them, and so cannot recommend one way or another, but they do seem to have a nice set of offerings. Though I would be inclined to take a pass on the frozen ćevapi by mail, myself.

4 comments:

Anonymous Expat said...

I didn't realize that vanilla sugar is an Eastern European thing. That's not to say I'd ever seen it before coming here. I just became aware of it a few days ago when I was in search of vanilla extract and when I questioned my mother-in-law she shrugged and told me to just get some vanilla sugar. Which I did. Do you know what it's commonly used for?

Eric Gordy said...

I've mostly seen it added to mixes for baking, also added to cream for pastries. But I have learned from painful experience that if you want to delight your friends with chocolate chip cookies, it does not in any way substitute for vanilla extract. In fact, I have never succeeded in making a decent batch of chocolate chip cookies with locally available ingredients. This might be more remediable now since some "local-international" chains (in Novi Bg, Mercator for the north-facing and Vero for the south-facing) have opened up. I have it on good authority that the Maxi underneath the Beogradjanka (the building, you naughty readers) has tortillas.

Yakima_Gulag said...

Tortillas? Do you realize I did not miss hot dogs when I was over there, I missed TACOS with a vengence! Not to mention refritos!
I had no way of fixing that. Anyway, one wonders when the UFW is going to start organizeing the vinyards of Hercegovina?

Anonymous Expat said...

Yup, only a few days ago I tried to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies using vanilla sugar. And the final result did fall short of my expectations. I thought it may have had something to do with the missing vanilla extract.

I did look for it at Mercator and a clerk told me they usually carry it but at that moment they were sold out. :/

Tortillas you say? Hm...