Cans and jars of imported food from Italy including tomato sauce, tuna fish and olives.
Wonderful imported foods from Italy available from Cerielo's Market in Baltimore.

Specialty Markets

Forming a relationship with a local shop-owner, perusing shelves of beautiful spices and ingredients, discovering that hard-to-find ingredient, interacting with food artisans, contributing to the food heritage of your community … these are the rewards of shopping at Specialty Markets!

Specialty Markets

Forming a relationship with a local shop-owner, perusing shelves of beautiful spices and ingredients, discovering that hard-to-find ingredient, interacting with food artisans, contributing to the food heritage of your community … these are the rewards of shopping at Specialty Markets!

Once upon a time – not that long ago – there were no supermarkets, no big-box stores, and no such thing as on-line shopping. Instead, people would go to the local butcher for meat, the fish monger for seafood, the bakery for bread and cakes, etc. People would go to stores that specialized in particular ethnic cuisines – such as Indian, Chinese and Italian – in order to find the ingredients to cook these types of foods. This, of course, was much easier when people lived in the same neighborhood as these shops. Now, we can find everything under one roof at a big-box store or with the click of a mouse.  

But, what have we lost in that process? We’ve lost that connection that you get from people who really know their products and how they are used. We’ve stopped supporting artisans who carefully tend their craft and devote themselves to providing the highest quality food. We’ve narrowed the diversity of food choices and homogenized food shopping. While it seems counter-intuitive, we’ve actually limited our choices in many ways. 

How wonderful to peruse aisles of small stores, looking at new ingredients and spices, finding opportunities to expand your cooking repertoire!  

Specialty markets are often owned by a family – often the descendants of the original owners – who have roots in the community and employ local people. They pump money directly into the local economy and are often an integral part of the community in many different ways. Behind the counters and stocking the shelves, you’ll find people who really know their products and often actually made the goods. They can give you all sorts of information about the food and its history, share anecdotes and provide suggestions for using their wares. These stores are the haven of artisans who study their craft, who have learned from generations before them, and take great pride in their food.  

Specialty markets might not be in the most convenient place for you, and they are rarely open 24 hours/day, but it is worth the effort to seek out these markets and discover for yourself the quality and diversity of their foods. The prices may be more than a big-box store, but you will get quality products from knowledgeable people. And, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that the prices tend to be competitive in many markets.  

Are you ready to shop local and find these community jewels? Use this website to find a butcher, an Indian market, a cheese monger, or whatever suits your fancy. Go to the “Region” drop-down menu and choose your region. Then, go to the “Category” drop-down menu and choose “Specialty Markets.” Read the descriptions and head on out!