Food Markets Are the New Vacation

Molly takes us on a tour of a couple of local exotic food markets – and gives us an unusual hummus recipe using roasted carrots.

Sometimes you just need to get away. And if you’re thrifty like me, you’re always on the watch for good deals and low-cost options. Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with traveling. I hate flying, and not because of the waiting or the hassle; it’s the dying part that worries me. But what I do love about going to new locales is the food. While most people (I assume) research historic places, government buildings, and the current Broadway shows, I am sleuthing grocery stores.

I have always loved grocery shopping. Where did this come from? My mother. She hated grocery shopping and she would beg my brother and me to accompany her to the market. We were never allowed to push the cart, (she knew we would hit her ankles). And, on occasion, usually unsuccessfully, I would attempt to sneak some of my own preferred items into the cart. Now as an adult, I don’t have to sneak items, and I can push the cart to my heart’s desire.

Some of my favorite American shops are/were Fox & Obel in Chicago, Cosentino’s in Kansas City, and the late, great Balducci’s in Manhattan. Why do I seek these places out? In my humble opinion, these experiences escalate the feel and personality of the city. They carry exotic products, ethnic eats, wines and chocolates that are always new to my eyes and mouth. But sometimes, for work-related reasons or some unforeseen economic factors, getting away just isn’t an option. So what do you do when you want to get of town without really “getting out of town?” Explore the wide variety of ethnic grocery stores/markets in Tulsa.

The Jerusalem Market at 51st and Sheridan is a personal favorite. I love this place. They have giant bottles of Ghee (Indian clarified butter), extremely under-priced bottles of rose and orange blossom water, pomegranate molasses, phyllo dough and a crazy selection of exotic spices. This place instantly makes you feel like you’re in New York. The scent of all those spices mixed together creates this beautiful potpourri that lingers in the air and in your nose long after.

At 71st and Memorial, tucked in to the back of a shopping center with Burlington Coat Factory, Euro-Mart has been in business for over five years. The store specializes in Russian and Eastern European goods, so much so, in fact, that a more appropriate name for the shop would be “Russian-Mart.” From the moment I walked in, I was enraptured with this place. The ladies that run the store have wonderful, thick Russian accents, the names and ingredients are usually somewhat indecipherable, yet you will want to try it all. A nondescript pink foil-wrapped candy? Yes, please, I will have three. Beef Goulash in a can with a cute little cow on the label? Why not? The store is tiny, maybe 600 square feet, but it is filled to the rafters with treats. The food may not be to your liking, but that’s really beside the point. I think its good, especially with kids, to get out, explore, let them pick out something “weird” and try it at least once. There is more out there than Wonder Bread and Lunchables.

I haven’t even discussed the plethora of fabulous Hispanic markets, but they deserve their own article. So the next time you just need to get out or the little ones (or bigger ones) say they’re bored, take an international grocery tour right here in Tulsa. But if you let them push the cart, keep an eye on your ankles.

Hummus inspired by the large quantities of Tahini available at the market!

Roasted Carrot and Ginger Hummus

• 1lb bag of baby carrots
• 1 16 oz can of chickpeas
• 1/3 cup of Tahini
• 2 tsp of ground ginger
• 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
• Salt and Pepper to taste.
Set oven to 350˚ and place carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle carrots with olive oil and roast until very soft and tender. Place carrots, ginger, tahini, chickpeas, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse while slowly pouring the olive oil in while it spins. Serve with crackers, pita, or (even better) spread on a tasty vegetable sandwich.
Categories: Food