Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Neighborhood Greengrocer

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One of the things I love about Israel, and about my town in particular, is that it still boasts little family-run businesses right there in the neighborhood. These businesses are an integral part of the community. Yes, we have big huge American-style supermarkets, I even do some of my weekly shopping in one, yes we have malls, yes we chain stores, fast food chains, all those western "conveniences", and they are convenient, and there is something to be said for large selections and uniform quality, but for some things bigger just isn't better.
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Like greengrocers. This photo was taken at my local neighborhood greengrocer (one of probaby five different ones within reasonable walking distance). It doesn't look like much, but don't let appearances fool you. These guys have far and away the best produce in the area (and the prices to match sadly, I could save a fortune if I'd just settle for "average" quality). Their selection is excellent, everything is as fresh as can be, and if their prices are high(er) at least I know I'm paying for quality, not for overhead and a fancy store. (The prices you see written on the cardboard are shekels per kilo. One US dollar is about 3.88 shekels right now, and a kilo is 2.2 pounds. Sorry, you'll have to do the math yourself.)
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They're dependable too, 99% of the time I know that unless it's completely out of season (and then even sometimes) I WILL find what I'm looking for. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to save money or time by dashing into a smaller, cheaper store, or even the supermarket itself, only to discover that they don't have this key ingredient or that one or the quality is too poor and I'll have to get over to "my guy" after all!
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They stock everything from these red grapefruits (yes, I realize I'm pushing the Ruby Tuesday envelop just a tad - work with me here) and farm-fresh eggs (both organic and not) to four different kinds of fresh mushrooms, fresh roasted cashews and imported parmesan cheese. Yes, I can buy fresh roasted cashews slightly cheaper from the bulk nuts and spices section of the big supermarket down the road, but they never taste as good or as fresh, important if you and your family are in the habit of snacking on them straight from the container.
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Oh, and did I mention that they have kurtos kalacs on Fridays?
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24 comments:

Mar said...

Love that type of market!! never heard of kurtos kalacs before but now I have, learning something new through blogging all the time :)
Love people who wear red t-shirts!
:)
Happy Ruby Tuesday!

ilanadavita said...

I enjoy smaller stores too; especially for fruit and vegetables.

me ann my camera said...

This is really interesting and it took me back to when I lived in an Italian neighborhood many years ago when I used to do my shopping daily for fresh produce. Not so anymore as I do not have access to such local produce and your post has made me realize I am missing it. Have a Happy Tuesday!

Leora said...

Yum! Israeli citrus is the best. I'm going to go downstairs and have a Florida grapefruit, but I'll think of those huge juicy ones in your makolet.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

What a wonderful place to shop for fresh food. I DID do the math and I'd say the prices in your Israeli market are much better than those in Canadian supermarkets...but maybe not so good in your local economy, I don't know. (Canadians always pay tons for food, I'm afraid.)

Felisol said...

Hi, Robin,
Nice, sunny memories with your Ruby Tuesday picture.
When in Italy or Greece I will always eat lots and lots of sun ripe fruits and vegetables. They not do taste quite different from our hot-house grown.

Also remember growing up in the fifties (I'm a 49er), the boats would come from Israel around Christmas time with juicy Jaffa oranges. That made the feast!
Nowadays we can buy any strange fruit whenever we like. It's not the same.

From Felisol

Ralph said...

We are in a suburban neighborhood, and the retail is about 1-2 miles from us. We have to travel quite a bit, and use the supermarket usually.

But the farmer's markets (as they seem to be called in the US) it's not just the lowest price, but higher quality. The big food retailers, with their razor thin margins, price and volume are the most important. The independent proprietor offers much higher quality. You pay more, but you get higher quality (and taste)

Catherine said...

All grapefruits, here in France, come usually from Israel, weither they're yellow, red or whatever colors between. They need your sun to get that, at the time, sweet and acid taste. It's one of my favorite fruit.
Otherwise, we have a lot of farmer's markets here, in Paris. Prices are a little bit higher than in supermarkets, but it avoids to drive the car. No supermarkets or Mall inside Paris.

Janet said...

I never heard of kurtos kalacs before, they look delicious!!!

Mojo said...

Yeah, kurtos kalacs was a new one on me too so naturally I had to go find out what that was. Maybe I shouldn't have! Sounds a little like Baklava on a stick... but not as chewy. And I love me some baklava!

I also lovelovelove red grapefruit, so if anybody gives you any grief about pushing the Ruby envelope you just send 'em to see me. I'll straighten them out.

We have one place here in town that could be compared to what you've shown us, but it's stuck waaaay over in the southeast corner of the city. And it's huge. The state Farmer's Market has all the locally grown stuff you can stand, but it's not remotely convenient to much of anywhere. If you head east towards the coast, you'll see farm stands all along the highway though. These are operated by local farmers who sell part of their crop directly to the public. These too are inconvenient unless you're going to or from the beach, but I suppose for the locals they provide much the same thing you get from your green grocer.

I do envy you having such a selection of bazaars right at your doorstep!

Neas Nuttiness said...

The pineapples look wonderful - and as for the kurtos kalacs...
...if I lived where these were readily available, I'd eat so many that I'd be too big to walk! And fresh roasted cashews - don't get me started.

Thanks for sharing so many wonderful pictures, and info about your "neighborhood" I can travel to Israel, vicariously, through your posts.

geminigirl64 said...

When in Israel, I always buy my frut and veggies from the weekly shook. I love the fresh vegetables in israel- the produce in the US leaves much to be desired. My husband's father lives on a moshav and has a few acres of land that he rents out for crops- we go behind the house and pick fruit during the seasons- and the taste is just amazing.!!!

Jientje said...

I agree Robin, it's very important to get the best fresh produce, even if you have to pay a little bit extra! Thanks for the kurtos kalacs, I had never heard of those before, but they sure look yummie!

Linda said...

Oooooooh ahhhhhhhhh :)

Reminds me of the markets in Yorkshire where I grew up, and of the wonderful produce stand there is near Lodi. Nothing like that here, but I'm a sucker for a well laid out produce market. :)

Raven said...

I love places like that. NYC had (well I guess they still have them even though I don't live there now) wonderful little places like this where everything is fresh and wonderful. Kurtos kalacs sound good.

Carletta said...

Now wasn't it wonderful that nice lady wore a red shirt for Ruby Tuesday to add to the red grapefruit. :)

The fruit looks delicious. I like small markets here in the summer when the fruit and produce is fresh.

Dianne said...

I love small stores! I hate to see them closing everywhere here in NJ

lovely shot

Sara Chapman in Seattle said...

The red grapefruit is pushing it, true, but the red shirt looks great and will qualify. I love your essay on the value of small stores. I agree!

And thanks for visiting my ruby leaves and leaving a kind comment. Much appreciated.

poppy fields said...

Those kurtos kalacs sounds delcious!!

angie said...

What a wonderful place to get your produce! I didn't know Hungary was considered Transylvania. My BIL spent two years there. I'll have to ask him about the kurtos kalacs!

MyMaracas said...

Lucky you, to have such wonderful produce! It may be pricey, but it sounds like the quality is worth it. Thanks for the link to the kurtos kalacs! Never heard of them, but but now I want one. LOL

Napaboaniya said...

All look good, it's already a pleasure viewing all these greens. You're lucky that you're able to taste them too! :P

Thanks for the well wishes for my daughter, she has been discharged from hospital and is currently under home observation.

Robin said...

Transylvania isn't Hungary proper Angie, it's one distinct region that has at times been part of Hungary and is now part of Romania :).

This Eclectic Life said...

I am so jealous. I'd be willing to pay the higher price, too. In fact, I shop the smaller "Mom & Pop" type stores here in Texas whenever I can. I just want to see them continue in business. You always have links to so many things I don't know about. Now I have to follow them all down...