Back in July I drove down South Gammon Road for the first time in ages and noticed an Indian and Mexican grocery store tucked away in a mall on the 800 block. It took me a while but I finally stopped in to check things out there this past weekend.
My first stop was India House
. I walked in and began wandering aimlessly – just checking out the lay of the land. It wasn't long before the guy behind the counter approached me. He began by asking me if I'd been there previously. I replied that I hadn't and he introduced himself as the owner. Immediately he began giving me a tour of his store. And not just any old tour. It ended up being incredibly thorough.
He led me through every aisle and pointed out items on every shelf and in every cooler/freezer. "These are spices from Southern India", he told me pointing up at a display on one shelf. "These over here are from Pakistan." His store had several varieties of naan and he showed me all of them. Proudly he pointed out the four brands of basmati rice that came in ten pound sacks. There were also other varieties of rice and my host was eager to inform me how they would alter my humors. Apparently basmati rice generates head while some of the other varieties induce coldness.
There were several brands of pre-mixed spice pastes. All a prospective vindaloo eater has to do is add the liquid and meat. I was told that a particular brand was the most popular with his Indian customers and so I grabbed a packet of Butter Chicken paste. He also had a smattering of produce including some eggplant and okra. I grabbed a bit of each. Over at the beauty supplies area I was introduced to toothpastes of varies flavors, a laxative, soap, and what I think was some skin lightening goop. The guy left no stone unturned.
Because it was my first time there, I was given a pack of cashew cookies, what was called an Indian banana (looks like the kind with which I am familiar but smaller), and a couple of what I think were raw dates. Customer service should be so good at every store.
I put my bag stuffed to the brim into my car and headed next door to the Mexican grocery store, the name of which I cannot recall. The shelves are a bit bear and there are some empty ones, but all of the staples are there. Upon seeing me, a kindly and pulchritudinous young woman at the counter in back immediately pointed me at a Nesco containing tamales. Luckily for her I can't resist them and promptly pulled out a bag of a dozen of them. Next to it was a cooler with a tray of carnitas. The sample I was given was quite tasty. (Next weekend they'll be featuring menudo.)
Although not made with lard, the tamales were quite good. Each gallon freezer bag has four each of three flavors. There was chicken with chili, jalapeno & cheese, and tomato, onion, and cheese. All were really tasty and had a little kick to them.
I don't grocery shop much on the west side but I am sure I'll return to these places at some point or another.