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You Can't Get That Here


Mjx
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Those of you who travel quite a bit have probably noticed that some foods or food products you take for granted in your home country/culture simply do not exist in certain elsewhere. I'm not talking about items that a culture may proscribe or regard as repulsive in some way, or things that are specifically tied to a completely foreign culture, but things that inexplicably do not exist (I'm not talking about specific brands, by the way, just specific types of food items).

I'll start: Grape jam simply does not appear to exist in Denmark, although it is [one of] the most popular flavours in the US.

I have no idea why (virtually every other fruit flavour is available, including many you have to really hunt about for, in the US; grapes are no novely in Denmark, either). If I mention it to Danes, they think it's a strange idea.

Flipping this the other way, bread chocolate, which is very, very popular in Denmark, apparently does not exist in the US (these are thin sheets of chocolate you put on slices of bread; when the bread is hot, it melts; serving this to all the delegates at a UN gathering might put a permanent stop to all future wars).

Your turn! What have you found to be surprisingly absent from some corner of the world?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I'm not sure this quite speaks to the issue you're talking about, but when I lived in rural New Brunswick, Canada, none of the local grocery stores carried fresh herbs, garlic or chilies. And people wondered why I didn't like it there... if I wanted to make guacamole, I had to drive across a provincial border (about 25 minutes away) to get jalapenos!

Lately, I've been on a quest to find poblano peppers. There seem to be signs for them at the local grocery stores, but none of the actual item. And, this being Canada, I don't have a "local Latin market." It's no wonder Canadians aren't familiar with real Mexican food.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'll speak up from Latin America. Orange marmalade, the bitter stuff that all Canadians are familiar with, doesn't exist here. Neither does mincemeat in big jars, or real maple syrup (Aunt Jemima is, inexplicably, here.)

Equally, in Canada I find myself pining for 10-oz tubs of Manjar de Leche, fresh herbs at the supermarket (I'm with you Matthew), and there's no achiote in the (pitifully small) dried-spices section.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Equally, in Canada I find myself pining for 10-oz tubs of Manjar de Leche, fresh herbs at the supermarket (I'm with you Matthew), and there's no achiote in the (pitifully small) dried-spices section.

You haven't been to Ontario lately. In Peterpatch, fresh herbs are everywhere...don't look for epazote...now two grocery stores carry Poblanos (although both have been shorted for two weeks now), you can buy dulce de leche (well...) everywhere, and achiote is carried in bulk food stores and in the one 'hot' store.

from MKayahara (I never have figured out how to multi-quote)

Lately, I've been on a quest to find poblano peppers. There seem to be signs for them at the local grocery stores, but none of the actual item. And, this being Canada, I don't have a "local Latin market." It's no wonder Canadians aren't familiar with real Mexican food.

Poblanos are normally available at FreshCo and Sobeys in Peterborough. Slowly more 'Latin' products are available here. Toronto would be the best in Kensington market. Ottawa has a store on the Merivale Road. I think even Whitby has a latin market now. Don't know Guelph at all.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Poblanos are normally available at FreshCo and Sobeys in Peterborough. Slowly more 'Latin' products are available here. Toronto would be the best in Kensington market. Ottawa has a store on the Merivale Road. I think even Whitby has a latin market now. Don't know Guelph at all.

I rarely shop at the FreshCo here, but I'll go and take a look! I know I can get them in Toronto, and assumed I could in Ottawa, but it seems like every time I look at a Mexican recipe, it calls for poblanos, so I really don't want to have to plan that far ahead... and since they're perishable, I can't exactly stock up in advance! Thanks for the tip.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Equally, in Canada I find myself pining for 10-oz tubs of Manjar de Leche, fresh herbs at the supermarket (I'm with you Matthew), and there's no achiote in the (pitifully small) dried-spices section.

You haven't been to Ontario lately.

Quite true. When I go back to Canada (which is rarely if I can avoid it) it's to Deadmonton. Fabulous Asian groceries, totally lacking in LatAm specialties.

Which reminds me. I can't get Ping (mung bean thread noodles) here. *sigh*

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Due to the large diversity of immigrant communities in Texas, it's been a long while since something I wanted was truly unavailable (the asking price is another matter). When I saw Mr. Kayahara asking for poblano intel on Twitter recently I was stunned--even the worst grocery stores in the smallest towns here will have, at minimum, jalapenos, poblanos, bell peppers, and usually serranos. And that's just the fresh pepper selection. I have looked at the local produce section with a new respect since then.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Poblanos are normally available at FreshCo and Sobeys in Peterborough. Slowly more 'Latin' products are available here. Toronto would be the best in Kensington market. Ottawa has a store on the Merivale Road. I think even Whitby has a latin market now. Don't know Guelph at all.

I rarely shop at the FreshCo here, but I'll go and take a look! I know I can get them in Toronto, and assumed I could in Ottawa, but it seems like every time I look at a Mexican recipe, it calls for poblanos, so I really don't want to have to plan that far ahead... and since they're perishable, I can't exactly stock up in advance! Thanks for the tip.

I find Poblanos to be eminently freezable. I buy a large quantity, roast them in the oven, leave them whole or cut them into rajas and freeze them in plastic bags.

Yesterday I made a few 'Tex-Mex' casseroley type things using previously frozen poblanos, both whole and chopped. Worked perfectly.

...but then we are not big on presentation in our somewhat scattered life. If it tastes good, that's about all that matters.

Actually when I get off the computer, I am going to roast and freeze green and colored bell peppers. DH, for whom a 'bargain' is heaven on earth, bought me more bell peppers two weeks ago than I wanted to contemplate. And I still don't want to think about using them.

ps. And as I mentioned to Jaymes and others last week, you CANNOT buy Hatch or other green chiles in Peterborough except in teensy cans. So much for making things with canned Poblanos, Anaheims, Hatch or New Mexico peppers.

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I don't bake much anymore being mostly lo-carb but we're going to a potluck Saturday and I have been asked to bring cookies. Since I'm out of practice making my old standbys I thought a simple bar cookie would be safest and picked "Magic Bars" as virtually foolproof and always popular. Ingredients: coconut, graham crackers, choocolate chips, nuts, condensed milk. Sounds amazingly easy, right? In Toronto? No problem, right? Had to go to 3 stores before I found graham crackers (the first supermarket in my neighborhood the clerks had never HEARD of them) and I still haven't found any place that has condensed milk. By the time I assemble all these "exotic" ingredients I would have been able to do 6 dozen hand decorated fancy pants cookies including the burned and misshapen rejects.

The strange thing about moving from the States to Canada (and probably vice versa) is that things look very much alike...but they're not.

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Sylvia, I'm amazed that there's no condensed milk in Toronto. You're looking for sweetened, yes? What you need to ask for (and they should have it at Overrwaitea or Loblaw's) is Eagle Brand. Don't even mention that it's condensed milk.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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You're having trouble finding sweetened condensed milk in Toronto? I mean, it might be hard to find Eagle Brand - there aren't that many big chain supermarkets in the city centre - but it should be easy to find Vietnamese brands in Chinatown, shouldn't it?

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Sylvia, I'm amazed that there's no condensed milk in Toronto. You're looking for sweetened, yes? What you need to ask for (and they should have it at Overrwaitea or Loblaw's) is Eagle Brand. Don't even mention that it's condensed milk.

I'll have to find a Loblaws. I've tried the Freshco (which is Sobeys) and the NoFrills. Never heard of Overrwaitea. Where are they? There must be condensed milk here, Eagle Brand or otherwise, because all those Vietnamese and Thais can't be making their iced coffee/tea without it. I just have to find it!

ETA: What Matthew said. :)

Edited by SylviaLovegren (log)
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I've never seen fresh passionfruit for sale in the US. Apparently they grow well in California climate but retailers assume they wouldn't be able to move it or something.

Odd. In San Diego, I see fresh passionfruit at Bristol Farms or Whole Foods regularly (and also at some of the local farmers' markets). It's not cheap, but it's available.

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Sylvia, I'm amazed that there's no condensed milk in Toronto. You're looking for sweetened, yes? What you need to ask for (and they should have it at Overrwaitea or Loblaw's) is Eagle Brand. Don't even mention that it's condensed milk.

I'll have to find a Loblaws. I've tried the Freshco (which is Sobeys) and the NoFrills. Never heard of Overrwaitea. Where are they? There must be condensed milk here, Eagle Brand or otherwise, because all those Vietnamese and Thais can't be making their iced coffee/tea without it. I just have to find it!

ETA: What Matthew said. :)

There's condensed milk everywhere in Peterborough. And I've never had trouble finding Graham crackers either. Overraitea does not exist in Ontario. There's no Save-On as far as I know. That's a USA brand (I think).

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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West of the rockies, it's Save-On; east of the rockies it's Overwaitea. They're both the same Vancouver-based company as far as I know (Overwaitea Food Group), and now that I think about it, PriceSmart or some similar horror of a name is what they are in Ontario. Hmmm.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I've never seen fresh passionfruit for sale in the US. Apparently they grow well in California climate but retailers assume they wouldn't be able to move it or something.

Odd. In San Diego, I see fresh passionfruit at Bristol Farms or Whole Foods regularly (and also at some of the local farmers' markets). It's not cheap, but it's available.

Same story with decent stores in medium-sized or better cities in Texas, I'll confess to some curiosity about the application of fresh passion fruit that justifies the expense.

edit: Now that I think of it, I don't think I've seen it since moving to the DFW area, but I'm in the for-real suburbs now for the first time since leaving home so that may be part of it.

Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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In France (or at least the part of France we live in) you can't get:

-sour cream

-Shredded wheat (regular or spoon size)

-Cheddar cheese

- Spring onions (except for a very brief period & even those are too large)

-Fritos (but you can get tortilla chips)

There are probably more things if I think about it more, but those are the ones that spring to mind.

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Gee, working in northern Canada bush camps, no one would think of putting anything but condensed milk in their coffee.

I'm sure I'll think of others later but the first thing that comes to mind in Australia is no canned pumpkin. And Aussies love their pumpkin. They don't understand pumpkin pie, but wouldn't canned make decent quick pumpkin soup? I would really like to keep some cans on hand because there is nothing like pumpkin to plug up a runny dog's digestion (or unplug a stopped up one).

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Three more for Denmark: suet, unsweetened baking chocolate, and evaporated milk

I've actually had butchers flat-out state that there is no such product, when I asked about getting my hands on some suet. But you can get lard, blocks of hydrogenated palm oil, chicken fat, and duck fat, so the absence of suet is really puzzling (I go down to the slaughterhouse for massive globs of beef kidney fat, and render my own).

Unsweetened baking chocolate is apparently not a thing in Denmark (despite the fact that any other kind of chocolate you can think of exists), so I always haul some back with me, whenever I go back to NYC.

And, although you can find condensed milk all over the place, evaporated milk is not to be found.

On the other hand, you can find lots of elderberry-flower flavoured things, which I've never seen in the US, sort of surprising, given the food industry's constant hunt for new flavours.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Unsweetened chocolate is unheard of in South Africa. Grape jam is a rare, rare beast - there is a delicacy called 'Moskonfyt' made with a particular type of grape, but plain grape jam? Nope. The most usual is apricot jam. Another thing we don't have is canned pumpkin. If you want pumpkin pie, you have to make it from scratch.

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This is a restaurant thing rather than a grocery thing, but visitors from the South to the North in the United States are occasionally surprised to find that iced tea is not available year-round (or often at all) in restaurants up here.

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