shopping

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A Swiss company that sells hundreds of squash and pumpkin seed varieties.

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I'm still not officially back :) but a reader from Canada had a question in the comments here, which I cannot answer. So, I ask any Canadian residents out there. Do you know of any Canadian sources (or places that will ship food items to Canada) for Japanese food, specifically umeboshi?

I am going to try to compile a worldwide Japanese shopping source list soon, since this type of question does come up all the time.

(For umeboshi specifically, if you can't find it locally at an Asian or Japanese grocery, I'd also try health stores since umeboshi is a highly revered food amongst the macrobiotic set.)

OK, let me shuffle back to the inert/letting the antibiotics do their job state now....

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This not quite food related, but I thought it might be of interest if you're reading this site and like to order Japanese books, DVDs and other media.

I go through books like I can go through a bag of potato chips. I order quite a lot of books almost every month from Japan. I don't have a local Japanese bookshop available, so I get everything from online stores.

I've ordered books in the past mainly from three sources: Amazon Japan, Yes Asia and JList. (Disclaimer: Just Hungry is an affiliate of all three companies, and product links do contain affiliate code that helps to pay costs for running the site.) Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

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Coop seems to have OEM'ed the famous Dolfin spicy Masala chocolate bar! All evidence points to this....

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Great news for fans of things Japanese who live in Europe, the UK in particular: Daiso, the 100 yen store chain, is opening a branch in London on November 17th. They are teaming up with Japan Centre, one of my favorite sources for Japanese food and other things. (Disclaimer: Japan Centre advertises on this site, but I'm also a happy customer.) It will be at 213 Piccadilly.

If you're not familiar with the awesomeness of 100 yen shops, you owe yourself a visit if you go to London. I am hoping that they will carry plenty of cute goods for the fans of cute. I think I need to go to London soon! I'm rather curious as to how they'll price things at the London store...will everything be a pound? We'll see.

Daiso also has several stores in North America.
An excerpt from the press release follows after the jump.

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The French-language blog sooshi has pictures of Uchitomi, a Japanese grocery with stores in Genève and Lausanne. The selection looks very nice!

I have also spotted real yuzu recently at the Bürkliplatz market in Zürich. In the summer I have seen live shiso plants there, both red and green too, Japanese-style sweet potatoes at Barkat, and satoimo (taro roots) at the Indian grocery store next the Hooter's at Helvetiaplatz. It's really great to see more 'exotic' Japanese and Asian produce more easily available here. When I first came to visit Switzerland back in the mid-'90s, you had to buy fresh ginger in the exotic food department at Globus! How times have changed. .

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I finally succumbed to the inevitable and went to the dentist yesterday, to have a back molar that has been twinging with pain for months looked at. And, as to be expected when you hold off that dreaded dentist visit for too long, my options weren't good: root canal surgery, or get the tooth pulled. I pondered my choices for, oh, about 5 seconds before settling on the tooth extraction option. (I've had root canal surgery once before...never, ever again will I go through that agony).

While it was my lesser-pain option, and Herr Dentist was as efficient as can be, I was still in pain as I got back to Zürich. (Herr Dentist is in Winterthur.) But my spirits lifted when I saw that the Wednesday Speciality Market (Spezialitätenmarkt im Hauptbahnhof) was back after a monthlong summer vacation. I headed straight for my favorite cheese vendor, which sells cheeses made by farmers/cheesemakers in the Züri Oberland region - in other words, very local, all artisanally made and so on.

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This news item is probably of no interest to anyone who doesn't live in Switzerland, but French supermarket giant Carrefour has apparently given up on the Swiss market and sold their stores to Coop (news in German).

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Reading this post on Serious Eats about the different ways in which municipalities in the U.S. are trying to reduce shopping bag usage, I couldn't help comparing it to the way Switzerland copes with the issue. Here there is no banning of plastic bags or anything aggressive like that. Instead, shoppers are given two choices of disposable containers for their groceries at the checkout counter: free but really flimsy and small plastic bags, which are barely big enough to hold a packet of sandwiches and a drink; or a sturdy paper bag - that costs 30 Rappen each, which is about 25 US cents. I think this is a really smart solution, because having to pay even that small amount for a shopping bag really discourages people from using them. (The supermarket shopping bags are so attractive it seems to Japanese people that they are even sold for more than 10 times what they cost as accessories!)

In Zürich, everyone carries cloth shopping bags, backpacks, and so on to do their shopping as a matter of course, and people with just a little to buy will stuff their purchases wherever they can - I've seen elegant women with vegetables peeking out of their expensive handbags, and businessmen putting groceries into their briefcases. That may be the key really: who says that we need to put groceries, most of which are packed in various forms of plastic anyway, into separate, special bags? (Granted, I would have never thought of this when I lived in the U.S.)

They do things similarly in France too, though there they have plastic disposable bags instead of paper ones. French supermarkets also carry canvas bags, which aren't that widely seen in Switzerland, as well as sturdy plastic bags of Ikea bag quality.

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Following up to the potato chip post: the availability of any kind of packaged food around the world is iffy, with the exception of a handful of really global brands, and even they (e.g. Coke) change their formulas from place to place sometimes. But as Roanne's comment reminded me, there is one kind of good potato chip that is available all around the world - Svenska Lantchips, aka Ikea chips. If you have an Ikea near you, next time you're there pick up a bag of these - a trifle on the greasy side, but these are tasty, sturdy chips, the type I really like. When I was at Ikea Spreitenbach a few days ago they had plain salted and unsalted; previously I've seen sour cream flavored ones too. Don't you just love Ikea?

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