The French are not known for their love of spices – difficult for Grenoble’s British expats such as Hannah Dee, who comes from multicultural Leeds. Here is her guide to Grenoble Spice: the specialist food stores that hold those treasured, hard to find exotic ingredients.
Coming to Grenoble from a fairly multicultural part of the UK one of the things I found myself missing was the range of foodstuff available. Don’t get me wrong: I think French food is fantastic. The quality of the ingredients here, in particular the vegetables, far outstrips anything you can find in normal shops and markets in the UK. At the local markets you can get truly fresh local produce – cheap, plentiful, and advertising the origin of their produce in terms of département rather than country… Marvellous stuff. No more rooting around Leeds City markets looking at signs saying “Tomatoes (Holland)” or “Beans (Egypt)”.
But what you don’t get is the range of produce, and particularly not the spices. In UK supermarkets you can now get pretty much any vegetable or spice you want, any day of the year. Here in Grenoble, you have to go to a specialist shop (or one of the really HUGE supermarkets) to get fresh chillis and coriander. In urban areas of the UK, they’re in every corner shop. So with that in mind, here is a brief guide to the various specialist food stores I’ve found in Grenoble.
Saïgon Store, 6 Rue Doudart de Lagrée 38000 Grenoble has a range of mostly Vietnamese products – good range of noodles, some fresh exotic vegetables and some frozen stuff, and a huge range of spices. You can get decent hot chillis here and stuff like lemongrass, galangal, and other Southeast Asian vegetables and spices.
Carrefour Asiatique, 88 Cours Berriat, 38000 Grenoble has a similar range to the Saïgon Store, and is handily right next to tram stop St Bruno on the A and B lines.
Rajah Bazar, 15 Avenue Felix Viallet, 38000 Grenoble is a small, packed and friendly store with a huge range of spices and a fairly impressive alcohol selection. They also open late (indeed, there is even a Facebook fan page calling them the “Oasis nocturne de Grenoble“).
World Market, 24 Avenue Felix Viallet, 38000 Grenoble is another small and packed shop, selling food from all over the world. A good range of Pataks curry sauces, Thai and Viet and Japanese and Chinese food, manioc flour, couscous, hummus, falafel… They even have instant “Pão do queijo” packet mixes if you’re after a cheesy Brazilian junkfood snack. And a surprisingly impressive line in hair extensions.
Indian Bazar (Wahey Guru Di Kirpa), Cours Berriat by the junction with Jean Jaures has a small range of Indian foodstuffs – all the dried spices you could want, dried goods, and some chutneys and pickles. This shop doesn’t have the largest range of stock, and isn’t very cheap. But they do have lots of spice!
Supermarché Siam Bangkok, 38, Avenue La Bruyère, 38100 Grenoble is a slightly out of town (on the A tram, stop La Bruyère) supermarket, which claims to be a Thai supermarket but is actually much more international, stocking fufu flour and couscous and a lot of other stuff I don’t know what to do with. The range is similar to that of the World Food Store, but the floorspace is larger and there seems to be an awful lot of dried fish. This one is a little run-down, but still an interesting place to browse.
It’s worth finishing with a mention that the Géant Casino at St Martin d’Heres has a reasonably good section of international food in tins and jars (including Marmite, yeah!) – presumably because of the international nature of the student population.
But what about you? Are there any ingredients you’ve not managed to find? Or any shops that I haven’t mentioned? Do leave a comment if so!