Grocery Shopping the Planet with 7 Hungry Photographers

Of all the experiences that give us that local feeling on a trip – finding a lively wine bar on a tucked‑away street or happening on a neighbourhood festival – combing a grocery store or market to discover the palate of a place, from the produce to the packaging, tops the list. In the age of Airbnb (2 million people are staying in them at this very moment), we’re more ready than ever to fill a basket and prepare a meal like a local. We asked seven photographers around the planet to give us an insider glimpse of what it’s like to shop, and cook, in their cities.

Moroccan mint, tea, couscous, olives, oranges, eggplant, sardines and jelbi
   Photo: Marco Ricci

Casablanca, Morocco

“You will find large, modern supermarkets in Casablanca, or you can buy fresh products, even fish and meat, directly on the streets. Visit Marché Central near the old city, or, to travel into the past, Marché el Garb in the Habous Quarter. Moroccan food is quite difficult to master – you need time and knowledge of spices and techniques – but for a Moroccan breakfast at home, fresh cheese with oil, olives and bread is a must.” —Marco Ricci

  1. Mint and tea To be steeped together for Moroccan mint tea

  2. Couscous

  3. Olives

  4. Oranges

  5. Eggplant

  6. Sardines Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of canned sardines

  7. Jelbi Soft cow’s-milk cheese

Soy sauce, Kewpie mayo, cup noodle, daikon, mochi, onigiri, umeboshi and mushrooms from Japan
   Photo: Irwin Wong

Tokyo, Japan

“For a high-quality product lineup and good local produce, visitors should explore the food level in one of the big Ginza department stores. Pick up ingredients to make miso soup, rice and grilled fish. Maitake mushrooms are leafy and have a great texture for all sorts of dishes, including soup. And do not miss sampling the hundreds of types of artisanal, small-batch soy sauces available in the country – find them at upscale supermarkets or prefectural antenna shops.” —Irwin Wong

  1. Soy sauce

  2. Kewpie mayo

  3. Cup noodle

  4. Daikon

  5. Mochi Soft, sweet and pastel-coloured rice cake

  6. Onigiri These rice-ball snacks are filled with everything from chicken to cod roe

  7. Umeboshi Salty pickled plums, often enjoyed with rice

  8. Mushrooms Like maitake, shiitake and enoki

Corn, maple syrup, bagels, pea soup, blueberries, cretons, smoked meat and cheese curds from Montreal
   Photo: Sylvie Li

Montreal, Canada

“My favourite of Montreal’s public markets is Jean-Talon Market, in Little Italy. Pick seasonal and local produce, like root vegetables in the winter, asparagus and fiddleheads in spring and wild blueberries in the late summer – they’re delicious as is or with a drizzle of maple syrup on plain yogurt. But if I could sum up Montreal in one food item, it would have to be bagels: I love the sesame and rosemary ones from St-Viateur; they’re dense, a bit sweet and simply the best fresh from the oven.”—Sylvie Li

  1. Corn

  2. Maple syrup

  3. Bagels Fairmount or St-Viateur: Try them both and pick your favourite

  4. Pea soup

  5. Blueberries

  6. Cretons A Québécois pork spread served on toast for breakfast

  7. Smoked meat

  8. Cheese curds

Chickpeas, pita, arabic coffee, Oreos, dates, zucchini, middle eastern spices and frozen chicken from Dubai
   Photo: Mandy Toh

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

“In Dubai, the diversity of different nationalities means you can find cuisines from around the world, from Italian pasta to Indian curries to Moroccan tagines. For a quick and no-fuss local meal, I suggest sweet and savoury balaleet: a traditional dish made of vermicelli with sugar, cardamom and saffron and served with an egg omelette. It is popular for breakfast, along with qahwah arabiyya, or Arabic coffee.” —Mandy Toh

  1. Chickpeas

  2. Pita

  3. Arabic coffee

  4. Oreos Most products are imported, including common American snacks

  5. Dates

  6. Zucchini

  7. Middle Eastern spices Seven Spices blends allspice, cloves, nutmeg, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper and cinnamon

  8. Frozen chicken

Empanadas, dulce de leche, chimichurri, provoleta, alfajores, maté, peanuts and rib-eye steak from Buenos Aires
   Photo: Ángela Copello

Buenos Aires, Argentina

“In Buenos Aires, our most popular meal is the asado, or barbecue – it’s a must for all family and friend gatherings. It consists mostly of meat, including chorizo, morcilla (black pudding) and other achuras (offal). Everything is eaten with chimichurri or creole sauce. The rib steak is an ideal cut for the barbecue, seasoned only with salt and usually served with salad, the most popular of which is ensalada criolla: lettuce, tomato and onion. And, of course, dulce de leche is my favourite item in the mix. You can enjoy it on its own, spread it on a slice of bread or eat it as part of a dessert or pastry – it’s used in about 90 percent of them.” —Ángela Copello

  1. Empanadas

  2. Dulce de leche

  3. Chimichurri A sauce of parsley, garlic, chili, olive oil and red-wine vinegar

  4. Provoleta Provolone that’s grilled until ooey-gooey

  5. Alfajores Dulce de leche sandwich cookies

  6. Maté Served in a gourd cup (calabash) with a metal straw

  7. Peanuts

  8. Rib-eye steak

Barramundi, kangaroo sausages, prawns, Vegemite, Tim Tams, mangoes, meat pie and bbq sauce from Melbourne
   Photo: Lauren Bamford

Melbourne, Australia

“For a quintessential Melbourne shopping experience, head to one of the big produce markets. You have your European-style ones in the city, the Queen Victoria Market (locals call it the Queen Vic) and the slightly smaller South Melbourne Market, as well as ones with more multicultural offerings, including the Footscray and Preston markets. It’s difficult to pass up Australian seafood – snapper, kingfish, squid or barramundi. Get your fishmonger to clean, gut and descale it, then season, add olive oil, lemon juice, a dab of butter and cook it in the oven or on the grill. Pair it with a simple salad or some homemade chips.” —Lauren Bamford

  1. Barramundi The most popular fish Down Under

  2. Kangaroo sausages

  3. Prawns

  4. Vegemite Australia’s Marmite (a.k.a. yeast-extract spread)

  5. Tim Tams Beloved chocolate biscuits

  6. Mango

  7. Meat pie

  8. BBQ sauce

Apples, sour cream, Krówki, oscypek, dill, pierogi, cucumbers in brine and gingerbread from Warsaw
   Photo: Agnieszka Pałtynowicz

Warsaw, Poland

“We usually visit multiple shops while grocery shopping: We’ll buy bread at the bakery, vegetables and fruits at farmers’ markets, cakes at a patisserie. Hale Mirowskie, a complex of two old market halls (Hala Mirowska and Hala Gwardii), is a unique place to shop. There are fresh, organic and regional products, plus restaurants, so everyone can find something and enjoy the industrial architecture. I don’t know about the other Warsaw residents, but I could eat tomato soup every single day – it’s something that everyone in Poland associates with their childhood. Top it with lots of sour cream and dill for a simple meal at home.” —Agnieszka Pałtynowicz

  1. Apples

  2. Sour cream

  3. Krówki Soft, creamy fudge candies

  4. Oscypek Smoked cheese made in the Podhale region

  5. Dill

  6. Pierogi

  7. Cucumbers in brine

  8. Gingerbread

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