Updated: Jun 4
Every supermarket that I've been to has an International foods aisle, but there are a lot more countries in the world that are not represented there. And even the ones that are don't have a very good selection of items.
I'm very lucky that I live in an area where there are lots of different ethnic markets and specialty food stores. Within five or six miles of my house here in Quincy, Massachusetts, I can buy fresh foods for recipes from Italy, Ireland, Albania, Portugal, China, Puerto Rico, Japan, India,
Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Jamaica, Germany, Haiti, Syria, Israel and some parts of Africa. If I take a ride to Cambridge (8 or 9 miles) I could probably add a bunch of other countries to that list, but the parking sucks so I don't do it often enough.
Before I retired, I worked at Mass General Hospital in Boston. The building where I worked was right next door to a Whole Foods Market, so I was able to get some of my shopping done before I even had to face the afternoon commute.
Most of the time now, I do my shopping at either Stop & Shop or 99 Ranch Market (Asian) because they are both really close by my house in North Quincy.
I find the majority of the household basics at Stop & Shop because specialty markets either don't carry or have limited selection of major American brand "necessities" like cleaning products, although surprisingly, the 99 Ranch Market was the first place I found toilet paper after the COVID panic buying cleaned every store out.
For fresh food items like produce, meat and fish I go to the 99 Ranch Market for several reasons.
99 Ranch doesn't smell bad like most Asian Markets This is the Main Reason that I went back the second time. I apologize to the Asian community for this comment, but let's face it folks ...your grocery stores usually don't smell very nice 99 Ranch is very clean. Even the butcher shop and fish department smell good. Additionally, everyone who works there has been very nice. Most of them don't speak English very well, but they do it a lot better than I can speak Chinese.
They have the best selection of beautiful and interesting produce. All the usual stuff, plus things that you won't find in a standard U.S. supermarket. Unlike Kam Man and the other Asian markets, the produce has both English and Chinese names on their signs so you can tell what it is without interrogating anyone. You might have to ask someone how to cook it, though because they have some mighty exotic stuff.
The fish counter has a selection of items like you wouldn't believe, including live fish, lobsters, crabs and mollusks, whole fish from all over the world, There are even several different varieties of whole shrimp, prawns, squid, octopus and even some prepared foods as well.
They offer such a wide variety of meats that you never know what you will find... Some cuts are so unusual to me that I just read the label on the package and walk away wondering what I would do with it. Like chicken and duck feet for instance. But they have all the usual stuff too, so don't worry.
Until the Next Time ... So Long from Bob's Diner
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