I find it very surprising that I get astonished looks when I mention visiting different ethnic grocery stores in the Akron area. It seems to me that many Akronites either don’t understand the fantastic nature of ethnic grocery stores, or on the other hand are too intimidated by the foreign packaging and unfamiliar atmosphere of a non-American grocery store. This is a huge mistake, in my opinion, and visiting these establishments can open you up to a hold new world of cooking-as well as fantastic snacks! I’ve outlined just three of the stores that I hold so dear in the Akron area.
Asian Food Market
There are actually a few really great Asian grocery stores in the Akron Area, but this is probably my favorite. Located in Cuyahoga Falls, this store offers grocery products from all over Asia. I’ve found Japanese rice perfect for sushi, a pre-made Pad Thai sauce that is to die for, as well as miso paste, curry pastes, and a whole host of other fantastic grocery products that I would have never found in an American grocery store (no matter how big its “international” section is). They have a great selection of Asian candies and sweets (maccha ice cream anyone?), as well as gifts of all different countries.
Near East Market
Let it be known that I love Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean food. For this reason, coming to the Near East Market is a fantastic treat. I just recently discovered this small shop in Stow, but I have made countless visits since. The employees are incredibly friendly and helpful, and the products are great. I particularly enjoy a brand of pumpkin seeds sold here, but there are also these addictive wafer cookies I cant stay away from. Like the Asian Food Market, there are countless sauces and curry kits. There is also a great selection of fresh made foods at the front of the store-including not only falafel, but a huge spread of baklava.
This market is rather small, but has a great selection of Mexican products nonetheless. It, too, is located in Cuyahoga Falls, next door to the Taquiera Rancheros (a fantastic Mexican restaurant). It has quite a few offerings, including a variety of sauces, salsas, snacks, and drink mixes. I found the snack cakes particularly interesting, and they have a bunch of delicious cookies and sweets. I know Akron has a few other Mexican grocery stores, and they are certainly worth checking out.
Patronizing local ethnic grocery stores is a fantastic way to spread your horizons and open up your cooking possibilities tenfold. Not only does it give you accessibility to many ingredients you wouldn’t find in American grocery stores, but those that the mainstream stores do carry will undoubtedly carry them for much more expensive prices. I’ve saved a ton of money shopping at ethnic grocery stores for basic ingredients-I just have to stay away from the candy aisles!