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International Intrigue in Aisle 2

October 19, 2015

Tourists engage in all kinds of strange behaviors. Many of them travel miles out of their way to visit a piece of rock, or some pile of steel and concrete, in order to stand in its presence and snap a picture to commemorate the occasion.

For years the appeal of international travel was lost on me. I just didn’t get it. And then I discovered food.

With that discovery I learned that indeed there were things that were special about visiting far away lands. Some foods don’t travel, and some are made in such small quantity that the best versions never leave their home country. For these culinary delicacies, you have to travel to the source.

But globetrotting is expensive, and it takes a lot of time. You don’t have to go to Wangfujing and see live scorpions being grilled on skewers to be amazed at the wonders of Chinese cuisine. All it takes is an open mind and a careful exploration of the aisles at your local international grocery store to be transported to a faraway place.

I mention this because on Saturday, I’m going shopping, and I hope a few of you will come along.

One of my mantras is to stay open to new experiences. And this will certainly be new. I’m leading an international grocery store tour. Sure, I’ve led tours of donuts, and other kinds of comestibles. But I’ve never done it on a bus before. Nor have I stood in front of a paying audience.

To be clear, I’m not getting paid for this. Yelp would see that as a conflict. However, it’s not a conflict for Yelp to take on a marketing sponsorship role with this event. Don’t ask me to explain the decisions of lawyers. The money is largely going to pay for the bus and to cover the cost of other expenses, not least of which are the snacks we’ll receive over the course of the day. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Again.

The Central Avenue International Grocery Store Tour is going to be this Saturday from 10a to 4p. It’s $30 a person, and tickets can be secured by calling ICCR at (518) 708-7608 for reservations. We’ll be stopping at Rolf’s, Breakthrough West African Market, Tay Vietnamese, Chester’s Smokehouse, and Parivar Spices and Food.

At each stop we’ll get to learn more about the markets, meet some of the owners, and taste some of the regional delights. Of course there will be time for wandering the aisles, exploration, and shopping. Along the way, I’ll be providing color commentary as the fellow who writes this blog. But I’ll also slip on my Yelp hat periodically over the course of the day, and hand out nifty Yelp Schwag to those who check in to these local businesses with the Yelp mobile app.

Before you buy your tickets, you should know that Yelp Albany is giving away one pair today. The giveaway rules can be found here.

I love exploring grocery stores. When traveling, whether it’s a domestic or international trip, I love to roam the aisles of the local supermarkets. And I can’t wait to share this enthusiasm with a bus load of people. This should be an entertaining day out. I’m looking forward to seeing a few of you there.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2015 1:54 pm

    Sounds wonderful. I wish you were doing it after I get back from California on November 6th, but I understand that your schedule (and those of your participants) don’t always accommodate my wishes. Can’t wait to hear what people have to say. I love Chester’s and Parivar, and look forward to interesting comments about the others.

  2. October 19, 2015 1:55 pm

    And of course, Rolf’s… one of the finest sources of good food anywhere, not just in Albany.

  3. October 19, 2015 8:48 pm

    Sounds awesome. They should probably add a Halal market in there too – there are a few to choose from.

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