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zora

Poll: Odd groceries in middle America?

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I'm working on a cookbook that I want to be pretty accessible. But I live in a very ethnically diverse part of New York City, so it's easy to lose sight of what ingredients are common or hard to come by.

My only other frame of reference is my hometown of Albuquerque, which just happens to have a ginormous international foods market, which solves just about every cooking conundrum.

But I don't know whether other smaller cities have the same diversity--whether for "ethnic" groceries or items that are considered high-end gourmet.

So, eGulleteers in non-coastal cities, can you let me know which of these things you can find easily (or not)?

--Pomegranate molasses

--Sumac

--Aleppo pepper (Turkish-style red pepper)

--creme fraiche

--Mexican crema

--Spanish smoked paprika

--miso paste

--sherry vinegar

--duck (fresh or frozen)

--duck fat

--pancetta

--less common pig parts: trotters, unsmoked hocks, cheeks, slab bacon, skin

I guess it would help if you also defined "easily"--supermarket, or only at a specialty store that you just happen to know about?

I'm also curious: how many people actually have specialized butchers to visit? (As opposed to just the meat case in the supermarket...)

Thanks a million!


Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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I currently live in Chicago, so I have access to nearly everything on the list.

However, when I lived in Birmingham, AL, I could easily get:

-pig parts

-pancetta

-Pomegrante molasses & Sumac (there happened to be a Middle Eastern grocery)

-miso (there was both a Japanese/Korean grocery and a Chinese grocery)

The other ingredients would be much more difficult to find, though I'm sure I could have turned up a duck if I looked enough. And despite the large hispanic population, Mexican products were actually quite difficult to locate.

Now, if you headed outside of the Birmingham area, good luck trying to find anything on that list (other than pig parts, which seemed to be everywhere).

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I live in central Wisconsin in a city of about 25,000 people. As for the item listed theonly things I know I can get here easily are Mexican crema, sometimes Miso, sherry vinegar, occasional fresh duck if someone is rasing them or supermarket frozen duck, and associated pig parts: trotters, unsmoked hocks, cheeks, slab bacon, skin.

What I would recommend is to put a list together of realiable merchants. For example, it is hard to get quality spices that would normally not be offered in my area, so instead I order Penzeys.

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Everything on this list is readily available via the internet.

Oh, I know. But that takes a degree of planning ahead and dedication that I don't want to force on people...


Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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Baton Rouge, LA

--Pomegranate molasses: I've never seen it

--Sumac: Easily obtainable from Asian market

--Aleppo pepper (Turkish-style red pepper): Never looked for it

--creme fraiche: Easily available, although only in upscale markets

--Mexican crema : Very common

--Spanish smoked paprika: I've only ordered this -- but never looked for it locally.

--miso paste: Asian markets

--sherry vinegar: Common

--duck (fresh or frozen): Common

--duck fat: Never seen it

--pancetta: Common

--less common pig parts: trotters, unsmoked hocks, cheeks, slab bacon, skin: Common

Good luck with your cookbook!

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Living in Chicago, I can find most everything on your list, but not without internet help.

I can certainly order just about anything on-line.

Finding it locally is a bit more challenging.

The only things I would normally run across in my weekly travels are duck and, probably, pancetta and slab bacon. For just about everything else I would need to do a bit of research and travel to specific ethnic neighborhoods/stores, or, possibly, Fox & Obel (I save that trip for when I've won the lottery).

Aside from the slab bacon, I suspect the pig parts would entail a trip to a meat packer--not impossible, but certainly not a place I drive past on a weekly (or monthly) basis.


Pick up your phone

Think of a vegetable

Lonely at home

Call any vegetable

And the chances are good

That a vegetable will respond to you

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I live in a town of about 17,000, and the only things I can see on your list that I can get readily are the Mexican crema (it's at both the local grocery store and the Wal-Mart SuperCenter) and the pancetta (some, from the grocery "deli") and pig parts (there's plenty of pig around here - lots of farms). I work in a larger town (50,000+) and they have some ethnic markets and things, so I know I can get Miso paste and larger markets should have sherry vinegar, smoked paprika and creme fraiche. I think I could get duck from the farmer's markets or specialty farms. Sumac and pomegranate molasses would be harder, but there's a Middle Eastern store there, too.

But, that town is an hour away and I work nights and weekends, so it generally means a special trip. I probably wouldn't get down to find them unless it was a really special occasion.


"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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I'm in Champaign, Illinois. It is a small city, but we have a decent-sized international population due primarily to the University of Illinois. Off the top of my head, I know where to find:

--creme fraiche

--Mexican crema

--miso paste

--sherry vinegar

--duck (fresh or frozen)

--pancetta

--at least some of the less common pig parts

I have some sumac at home, but I think that came from Milwaukee... I think that I could get some (and maybe the pomegranate molasses?) from a Middle Eastern grocery, but I'm not sure.


Edited by kitchenhacker (log)

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--miso paste

I have one small comment.

Miso is basically always a paste, so I would just call it miso.


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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Thanks, guys--this helps a lot!

(It's also swaying me toward including a recipe for pomegranate molasses...)

And duly noted re: miso (paste). It's just miso now in the book...not sure what kind of redundancy came over me when I was typing this post!


Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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Minneapolis, Minnesota -

All of the items listed are readily available from the grocery or speciality markets.

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about 40 miles east of San Francisco and I can get all those things. One of the many things I love about this area! But those in less fortunate areas can surely get anything on that list online, which - with a little mid range planning - is probably a lot cheaper than driving to markets anyway.

Do let us know about your book though!


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Iowa farm town of 160

-Pomegranate molasses nope

--Sumac nope

--Aleppo pepper (Turkish-style red pepper) nope

--creme fraiche nope

--Mexican crema yup

--Spanish smoked paprika yup

--miso paste nope

--sherry vinegar yup

--duck (fresh or frozen) fresh (in the air)

--duck fat from the fresh duck

--pancetta yup

--less common pig parts: trotters, from neighbors

unsmoked hocks in store

cheeks neighbor

slab bacon, skin neighbor

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Eastern Washington State: I got Smoked Paprika at Costco but have never seen it elsewhere (or Hot Hungarian Paprika, but that's a separate complaint), I'm sure there must be crema at one of the Mexican markets but have never looked. Miso from an Asian market or the small health food store. Probably can get pancetta. Everything else would be hard and probably off-putting for some.

Could you figure out a way to use pom juice instead of the molasses?


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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In Toronto where I grew up I knew where to find all of those and have most of them in my kitchen. Now I'm living just north of Chicago and I have a number of those things and I'm sure I could find them all if I wanted too in Chicago.

Aleppo pepper is nice, got some from a great little spice store in Toronto.


Professional Scientist (in training)

Amateur Cook

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Are you only looking for US-based people, or do Canadians count, too? We're probably the largest market outside the US for US cookbooks, after all. :smile:

I'm from Winnipeg, which has a population of 650 000, add another 50 000 if you want to include surrounding municipalities.

--Pomegranate molasses: can get it, but not so easily. Would have to go to a specialty store (Winnipeg is not that large, though, it it probably wouldn't be more than a 20-minute drive to find it).

--Sumac--never looked, but probably same answer as above

--Aleppo pepper (Turkish-style red pepper)--never looked, but probably same answer as above

--creme fraiche--either specialty store, or if I'm lucky, my local big box supermarket might have it (but I've not looked--clotted cream is available at my local big box store, though)

--Mexican crema--no

--Spanish smoked paprika--specialty store

--miso paste--easy (local big box supermarkets carry it)

--sherry vinegar--easy

--duck (fresh or frozen)--frozen is easy, fresh I'm not so sure. I should add that the frozen duck most readily available is usually utility grade, which means parts may be missing. If any of your recipes call for a beautiful perfect duck, the that may be more difficult. (When I was younger, I'd help my dad go through all the ducks in the freezer case to find the one that seemed least deformed. It was kind of fun at the time. . .)

--duck fat--never seen it--I would think more difficult and maybe not at all

--pancetta--easy

--less common pig parts: trotters, unsmoked hocks, cheeks, slab bacon, skin--chinatown, some meat markets, etc. Easily accessible, in my opinion, but I know a lot of Winnipegers who wouldn't know where to find them.


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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I live in Billings, Montana. I recently needed pomegranate molasses and sumac and had to order them online. You can get anything online, of course, but as far as buying things locally, Costco is about as comprehensive as we get.

Might be able to get crema and creme fraiche in Billings, maybe pancetta.

It's never stopped me from buying a cookbook, though. :wink:

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Here's what's available in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (I know you only asked about the US but... thought it might be interesting):

I can get everything on your list easily except the Mexican crema and the Aleppo pepper. Easily, to me, means: I can't find it in supermarkets but I know where to look, and it would maybe take me 1 hour to get everything on yur list in various stores.

A curious thing about the Aleppo pepper: I read about that in one of Paula Wolfert's books and went to my Turkish store and asked for it. They'd never heard of it! I buy Turkish red pepper flakes there that are labelled pul biber, and maybe that is Aleppo pepper?

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Yes to all of those except duck fat (I've seen goose fat occasionally, but not duck) and pig parts (possibly available via special order at a butcher shop, but unlikely). We do have a Middle Eastern grocery, so the molasses is likely, but I've never checked.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

-The mosque is too far from home, so let's do this / Let's make a weeping child laugh.

    Nida Fazli, poet, 1938-2016 (translated, from the Urdu, by Anu Garg, wordsmith.org)

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I could find the crema, and if it was fall, I could go outside and pick all the sumac I wanted.

I am in Eastern MO, about 70 miles from St. Louis, so if I really needed it, I would go to the big city.


sparrowgrass

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A curious thing about the Aleppo pepper: I read about that in one of Paula Wolfert's books and went to my Turkish store and asked for it. They'd never heard of it! I buy Turkish red pepper flakes there that are labelled pul biber, and maybe that is Aleppo pepper?

pul biber=Aleppo pepper, afaik. I think there are some variants in terms of how much they're toasted and oiled, but basically the same. Good question for the Mid East section...


Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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if it was fall, I could go outside and pick all the sumac I wanted.

I like that kind of resourcefulness!


Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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