How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned On the Site

tinned fruits and more

Because I live outside the United States, sometimes people inquire about where they can obtain the same ingredients or equipment wherever they live—worldwide.

Although I strive to make the recipes and stories as globalized as possible, infrequently I will use an ingredient or equipment that might not necessarily be as easily available to others as it is to me.

So I’m sharing the same search techniques that I employ when discerning where certain ingredients or products are available to readers which are relevant to many countries. Globalization has made a wide variety of things available around the world, but it’s impossible to ascertain exactly what is available where specific readers live. Because readers obviously have an internet connection, I often point people toward online sources, and because it’s impossible for me to know what is available in other countries or places. But you should also check with local merchants as well, and support the businesses in your community.


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Amazon

Amazon sells an unbelievable array of products, including French cheeses, salts, and other products. Many are sold through third-party merchants, who sell their goods under the Amazon umbrella. And some are sold directly from Amazon. They have a few departments, such as ‘Grocery & Gourmet Food’, ‘Home Appliances’ and ‘Kitchen & Dining’, so you can refine your search.

(Note: I’m an Amazon affiliate, but I don’t sell items on Amazon.)

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EBay

A giant flea market, you’d be surprised at what turns up on EBay. I was paying €45 for four cartridges for my printer until I discovered someone in France selling them for €9.99, for twenty four. Ebay features people selling new and used appliances, and you can find good deals through Ebay. It’s also a good place to find obscure items, like Thermomix machines and Moulex shredders. But you’ll often have to do a bit of digging and refining of your search.

The downside is that Ebay doesn’t have much in the way of customer service, so you’re on your own in case something goes amiss. Although they have tightened things up, it’s still a giant auction so it’s buyer-beware. But many people have good experiences on Ebay and aside from the good deals one can get, the stock changes frequently.

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Google Shopping

Google has a lot of nifty features. For example, did you know you can type into the search engine and it’ll tell you what time it is here? You can see what time I wake up! But perhaps more interesting is that it includes a shopping product search. All you need to do is tap in a phrase, such as , and a myriad of suggestions will come up. You can customize your search by language, postal code, or zip code.

(Note: The search box on the site uses the Google search engine.)

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Yahoo! Shopping

Similar to Google search is Yahoo! Shopping. It’s a search engine like Google, which displays the item, a short description, and a price with a link to the merchant.

The best way to use a search engine to find things is to remember that search engines are ‘dumb’, so don’t type in , but type or .

Shopping Search Engines

Similar to the big ones, mentioned above, sites like CNET and Price Grabber, and PrixMoinsCher in France, act as search engines, and some offer comparison features and site-specific product reviews. Most of these sites get a small commission from each sale, so it’s good to use them for reference. To make money, they link to another site, and get a small percentage when the transaction is made.

Specialty Merchant Websites

When I post about a product or shop in Paris, I link directly to their website if they have one. (I avoid linking to sites with music or flash animation.) But if you have a question about if the shop does ship, you can usually find that information on their website.

Some places will ship overseas, others won’t. So it’s best to check with them to see if they do. Things like chocolate and perishables usually need to be shipped by an overnight service to ensure they arrive in the best condition possible, and those costs can add to the final bill. Overseas shipping can be problematic for companies, especially small businesses in France, so most of them don’t offer it. A majority of the time, you’ll just have to stop in on your next trip to Paris and shop for it yourself!

cake molds

Online Specialty Shops

There’s a lot of places in the United States that sell top-quality foods and culinary equipment. Prices vary from reasonable to pricey, which is understandable; a €2 jar of mustard might sell for $6 or more in America due to the exchange rate, customs, and shipping.

A few places you can check are Zingermans, Dean & Deluca, Zabars, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, and ChefShop.

For specialty chocolates and cocoa powders, Chocosphere has a very good selection. For grains, Bob’s Red Mill is a good source, and King Arthur Flour has just about every kind of baking implement and ingredient you could imagine, including gluten-free alternatives.

French cream cheese American cream cheese

Local Businesses

Depending on where you live, if there’s a specific product that you can’t find, ask a local merchant if they can order if for you. When I lived in San Francisco, I asked my supermarket if they could carry aluminum-free baking powder. And soon enough, they were stocking the shelves with it, which they’re still doing today. Businesses want to sell things [except a few in France… ; ) ] so if you make a request, and they stock it, make sure to shop there and support the store.

In the United States, national chains such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, feature items like true Dijon mustard and French green lentils, and there are other supermarket chains in America, like Andronico’s, Central Market, and Dorothy Lane Market, which specialize in a broad collection of foodstuffs.

Also, there may be a local alternative where you live for things such as French green lentils, chocolates, or olive oil from Provence. And fortunately in many communities, there are farmer’s market and grocers who provide tastings so you can sleuth out local alternatives, which are often just as good, or perhaps better, than what I can get.

Note: I have no professional association with any of the links or companies mentioned; they’re provided for information only. The exception is Amazon, of which I’m an affiliate. For more information, you can read my Disclosure policy.

24 comments

  • Great idea for a blog David,

    Google is always my first port of call followed by Amazon, but more often than not I find what I need from an international seller on Ebay.

    A lot of things here in the UK are quite expensive,… such as really good mini gateaux moulds, ebay is a winner for getting these on the cheap from the US so long as you don’t need them in the next 5-10 days!!

    Dylan

  • Now if they would just open up a WHOLE FOODS in Paris … life would be complete ! :)

  • great reference page, thanks!

    you may know these already,… one of my favorite pastry ingredient sites stateside is L’Epicerie. there’s also Pastry Chef Central. and then, Meilleur du Chef on our side of the ocean.

  • Amazon is like a big taunting kid in the playground to me…. so many delicious foods, and a stupid refusal to ship grocery overseas. Fie on you Amazon! But thanks for the other advice – I didn’t know about google and yahoo shopping!

  • this kind of post is not only useful for your US readers, I did not know google shopping at all, thanks !

    And by the way, thanks a lot to have mentioned “the book depository” in one of your previous notes, I did not know them either. When I went on the link to discover their site, I’ve managed to find two important english books I never would have found elsewhere : amazon says that the first one doesn’t exist and that the second one is not yet in print :D. Their service is pretty neat, I got both books one week after my order. Ce site est un tuyau excellent, c’est fantastique, re-merci !

  • Hi Kerrin: Thanks for those. I’ve actually ordered French things from L’Epicerie, that I couldn’t find in France! Also in France is Cuistoshop.com which sells things like paper baking molds, that are hard to find in reasonable quantities. I’ve not ordered anything from them, but they have a lot of things I’ve got my eye on if I ever move to a larger apartment!

  • Thanks..great tips~

  • David, if you’ve never had Dorothy Lane Market Killer Brownies…. Oh my… I’m assuming that’s how you know of them. If not, order yourself some (charge it off as a business expense).

  • zabars is good isn’t it? i need to revisit them.
    and i think i could live in a world called ‘chocosphere’

  • I’d also recommend D’Artagnan for meats and poultry and truffle butter!

  • And what about those of us who live in Japan? (or is it just me…)

  • Peter: I’d be surprised if Google, Yahoo! or Ebay don’t have versions in Japan. I don’t speak Japanese so can’t advise, but when I was in Japan, I was amazed at what was available there in the department stores and specialty shops.

  • Thank you for sharing this David :D This would be useful in the future :D

  • I used to live two blocks from Zingerman’s. I didn’t realize how spoiled I was. It’s such a great company. The food’s great, but they also support local farmers (by buying their produce, etc) and local non-profits (donations, fundraising, etc).

  • What I want to know is where were these pictures taken? (Elle et Vire makes cream cheese? Who knew?)

  • You’re sort of wonderful, David. I’ve forgotten about some of those alternatives, mostly because the Italian post is back to extremely undependable after a few years of good service.

    What I’d really like to do is return to Paris and buy cookery gear instead of handmade umbrellas. Tourism must pick up a good deal before that happens, however.

  • Camille: I saw them at the Europain exhibition. Was surprised to see not just ‘French’ and ‘American-style’ cream cheese, but they also had ‘Australian-style’…and I had no idea what the difference was. I wanted to ask one of the reps, but being a French trade show, they were all busy drinking Champagne with each other (yes, really) at a table in the back of their booth to talk to any customers.

  • YOU were my go-to when we first arrived in France. I clung to your blog like a life preserver, trying to make heads or tails of how to adapt my US recipes to French ingredients, and what could be substituted for what. I stumbled on your site from a desperate search for flour, I think. (The day I was looking for whole nutmeg in the supermarket the day the Ducros guy was restocking the shelves was just a stroke of luck.)

    I’m not a professional by any stretch, but I’m pretty well-versed in the kitchen, so I’ve found it pretty easy to make a switch to French recipes and French ingredients. With a kid in the house, we still have to maintain our traditions (ask me about finding a ham to roast for Easter!) — so I still have to have at least some stock of ingredients for brownies…chocolate chip cookies…right next to the sanding sugar so I can make chouquettes after school from time to time.

    Don’t sell short ethnic grocery stores — I haunt the Asian and Portuguese stores near me, because they carry lots of stuff I’m familiar with that aren’t carried in mainstream grocery stores here.

    Rebecca, you’re welcome to a Whole Foods all to yourself. I’m pretty darned happy with a market three times a week and a couple of ethnic groceries, with trip to a bio grocery once in a while.

  • I’d also recommend D’Artagnan for meats and poultry and truffle butter!

  • Hi David,
    Love the blog! I’m fortunate to be traveling to Paris soon. Can you recommend any kitchenware shops in Paris? I’m looking for the quirky, regional, funky, or useful. Anything like cooking utensils, old fashioned chocolate molds, canele molds – the kinds of things you can only find in France.

    As point of reference I really like Sur La Table here in the Bay Area but love scrounging through small stores that have been there forever and collect up the weird and wonderful.

  • Alys: I named a few in the Bonnes Adresses section of The Sweet Life in Paris, but you should try MORA and A. Simon, near the Rue Montorgueill.

  • One can buy Bronte Crema di Pistacchio at AllThingsSicilian.com. I discovered it through Google after I found myself drooling over your Pistachio Gelato recipe. They also have Hazelnut and Almond versions, which I plan on using in their own Gelati versions one of these days. Anyone who decides to shop there should try Sicilian olive oil. It’s very grassy tasting, rather than fruity. It’s lovely for salads and dipping bread.

    Thanks for your shopping tips. Now I need to go buy some Speculoos spread (Google tells me it’s sold at BelgianShop.com).

  • Thanks for the blog. It brightens my week. I always try to link to Amazon from here.

    The A-Z of French Food, Dictionnaire Gastronomique Francais-Anglais, ISBN 0320005461, is available on Amazon as a “warehouse deal” for $34.99 plus shipping. The description mentions a small mark on the front cover so probably remaindered or “hurts”. Probably limited quantities are available.

  • Thanks Joan, glad you’re enjoying the blog and appreciate the heads-up on the price of the book. It is a really great guide, albeit slender, but has most of the foods (including many obscure ones) that people who visit France would want to know about.