One of my favourite pastimes is getting lost in the aisles of a foodstore be that Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Turkish, Lebanese, Greek...and so the list goes on. I can trace this love back to the first time I walked into Mr Vohra's - an Indian grocers and convenience store in a residential back street in Preston, Lancashire with my Mum (circa 1990). In that strip lit shop with every shelf filled and the floorspace stacked to teetering with spices, rice, and so much more that I did not the names of or their uses - my senses were set alight.
Nowadays, I frequently find myself seeking out unusual ingredients, new products, specific brands or new food producers and retailers from my kitchen table via my laptop but this way of shopping does not compare to the experience of immersing myself in the sights and smells of a well stocked, well sourced foodstore. Happily I get to do both.
Here is one of my recent purchases, a ketchup that can stand alone as a condiment - perhaps atop some shredded slow-roasted lamb shoulder scooped into a warm flatbread and plumped out with a refreshing cucumber salad; or as an ingredient as part of a marinade. It has that traditional ketchup balance of sour and sweet with warmth provided by some Middle Eastern spices. Check out my Cooking page to see how I have used it so far.