Help me make the ultimate international grocery list
December 8, 2017 10:32 AM   Subscribe

After following the sage Mefite advice from my AskMe a few months ago, I am moving in the coming weeks! Now, however, I am faced with the fact that there are many foodstuffs that won't be as easy to procure where I'm headed. So I'm looking for help crowdsourcing a shopping list.

(I mean, there are international supermarkets within an hour's drive or so, but I'm spoiled by living in Queens.)

What sort of spices/frozen goods/oils and vinegars/shelf-stable food items can I stock up on so that I can make my own favorite dishes? I recently picked up frozen galangal and Makrut lime leaves for Thai cooking, for example, but I would welcome any and all suggestions for Thai ingredients or Mexican/Eastern Euro/Middle Eastern/Indian/Chinese/etc. cooking.
posted by cowboy_sally to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: Oops, forgot
Thai Pantry
posted by furnace.heart at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

Also, I wouldn't stock up too hard on oils. They do go rancid, relatively quickly, even sealed up in a pantry. Oils are generally substitutable, and relatively easy to find.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:45 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Most anything you can stock up on, you can order online. I'd buy the things you currently love and use, but really, the internet has solved most of this.
posted by advicepig at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

The local supermarket sells the more common ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar but in tiny, overpriced bottles. We get the economy size versions when we visit Asian markets. If there is a rice you use a lot of I'd buy a big sack of that too.
If you make your own tortillas get some masa. It's really hard to find unless you go to a Mexican grocery store and it keeps well.
posted by Botanizer at 11:13 AM on December 8, 2017

Where are you headed? Because you can get most of this stuff on Amazon or other websites. I order this kind of stuff with my friend's Amazon Prime account all the time. Also, we don't know what your favorite dishes are, so I'm not sure how we'd know what to tell you to stock up on.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:24 AM on December 8, 2017

Response by poster: These are great suggestions and points so far. Won't threadsit, but I'm moving to Western MA, and I guess that rather than describe favorite dishes, I'd rather look for items that would enable me to cook vaguely authentic-tasting dishes? The Pantry links that furnace.heart provided above are perfect, actually.
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:33 AM on December 8, 2017

Isn't Western Mass a pretty hip and happening place? It looks like you can get all the galangal and kaffir lime leaves you want at this place, for example.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:42 AM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm trying really hard to show restraint, as building pantries is one of my favorite hobbies. But Lucky Peach (RIP) had a really good breakdown of different asian pantries. It used to be on their website, but is available in their book 101 Easy Asian Recipes. Internet archive has some of it, but really it's broken out into Easy, Intermediate, Advanced. Worth picking up a copy to thumb through. It's a little generic in it's approach, but the dudes over at Lucky Peach did a rad job building a vast, broad asian pantry.

And yeah, I feel you. I lived in Portland Maine for a while, and yeah, they have some ethnic markets, but there's always gaps and getting a little tiny bottles of x, y and z shipped through amazon is usually way more expensive than just stocking up when you're at an awesome, specific ethnic grocery store.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:58 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't think you need to worry that much depending on where you're headed. Pioneer Valley, no you don't need to worry, Berkshires, maybe. I mean, you're not going to find this stuff at Stop & Shop or Big Y, necessarily, but it's not hard. For the Valley, Tran's has a ton of stuff - sauces, noodles, dried ingredients, spices, etc. Definitely a good spot (Hadley). River Valley Coop in Northampton has a good selection of spices and stuff like bulk beans, rice, masa for tortillas, plus various oils and vinegars, etc. I know I was just posting saying I can't get crema or cotija at the local grocery store, but between River Valley, Tran's, and Whole Foods in Hadley getting most ingredients to make stuff at home hasn't been an issue. Mi Tierra makes good tortillas, available at all the local stores that I've been to. A few years ago my spouse and I cooked a bunch of stuff out a Thai cookbook, we make Indian food all the time, make some Japanese food, etc - it's really not hard to get ingredients, especially if you are willing to drive a little. I mean, look, fresh mangoes, say, aren't going to be great or they'll be expensive, but you can get them, and you can get frozen mangoes. I quickly skimmed those lists above, and we have or have had quite a few of those ingredients at some point or another in the last five years.

Welcome to Western MA! It's awesome here!
posted by john_snow at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

There's a significant international population of foreign students and faculty in the Pioneer Valley with several stores that cater to them. Trans and Maple Farm, both in Hadley, have a huge array of what you're looking for. John_snow's list is quite comprehensive. You don't have Polish Pantry on your list, but if you're not vegetarian Pekarski's in Deerfield is an incredible source of smoked meats. The larger farmers' markets in Northampton and Amherst carry fresh Asian vegetables as does Maple Farm. The food supply in the Pioneer Valley is fantastic.
posted by Elsie at 7:48 PM on December 8, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Lots of valuable information here. Unfortunately I'm about an hour's drive from Northampton, as I'm in Berkshire County, but I'll bookmark all these great Pioneer Valley stores to check out on my excursions.
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2017

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