by Amy Menchhofer
As a general rule and as Julie suggests, when grocery shopping frequent the small shops, after all they’re part of what gives a big city its charm. However, sometimes, especially when trying to assuage the occasional bout of home sickness with a tried and true home-cooked meal, you need ingredients that go beyond the shelves of the neighborhood stores. In that case I recommend you cross over to the “dark side” and patronize that behemoth of Spanish department stores – El Corte Ingles. What the store lacks in personal touch and neighborly interaction it more than makes up for with the plethora of products found in the store’s international and vegetarian food sections.
Feeling like Indian food? The international aisle offers pre-made masala and korma sauces in addition to ready-to-eat naan. What about Japanese? Stop by to pick up wasabi paste, rice wine vinegar, sushi rice, and tempura mix. Craving Grandma’s homemade sweets? At El Corte Ingles you’ll find ground vanilla, pecans, and maple syrup. Entertaining a vegetarian friend? The comprehensive “healthy” section (usually located near the special-needs foods) offers soy burgers, flavored tofu, soy chicken nuggets, and even soy croquetas.
There are surely a number of specialty stores throughout Madrid that offer these same products; the beauty of El Corte Ingles being that you’ll find them all in one place and in a convenient location. You’ll pay a bit more for these products, but when you want a lunch of chicken curry followed by pecan pie for dessert only a stop at El Corte Ingles will do.
A full list of store locations is available here. Do you ever shop cross over to the “dark side” and shop at El Corte Ingles?