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Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Trip to the Euro Mart

Good evening, dear readers.

Today was a day I had been looking forward to all week. This past weekend, in the aftermath of my family's visit, I was googling where I could find Serbian beer for sale in town, and lo and behold, I stumbled across a Euro mart. Owned by a Ukrainian family, it was located on the east side of town and sold all kinds of goods from Eastern Europe. This included beers from Russia, the Ukraine, the Balkans, and Poland. I wanted to go and check it out, so today after my husband got his medicine, we went and took a friend with us. She hadn't seen our cholomobile yet and needed a ride home, but she didn't have any plans for the afternoon and tagged along with us.

The helpful proprietress and her wares. Pic found here

Upon arriving in the strip mall where it was located, I thought immediately of the Serbian delis I used to visit while growing up in Illinois, as well as a few up in Phoenix that I've frequented in my old life. There were mineral water and beer advertisements in the windows, as well as a sign proclaiming how good the gyros were. Inside, the shelves were packed with Russian and Polish goods as well as jars of pickled stuff. I literally was like a kid in a candy store! It was not cheap, however. Compared with the delis I've been to, the place was a racket! But, it's a specialty store for a community that isn't really big, so I can deal with the prices because this is the reality of the Slavic community here in southern Arizona. At least the store accepted EBT.

Russia's largest beer company, with all its varieties. Pic found here

My husband got a few jars of pickled herring (yuck!) and I got some fillo dough to make pita as well as some Russian cookies for the baby. I also fulfilled the mission that brought me to the store in the first place and bought a few bottles of beer. I bought a bottle of Baltika (grade 9) which is a Russian beer brand, and two Serbian beers that I remembered from my childhood: Niksicko (actually, they're from Montenegro) and Jelen. I saw some other beers from Bosnia and Croatia as well as plenty from Russia, Poland and the Ukraine. Again, these bottles of beer are not cheap (my Serbian beers went for almost $3/bottle and the Baltika was like $7 cuz it was a pint as opposed to a 10-oz bottle), but until I can find them elsewhere in town for cheaper (I don't think you can order them online), a once-in-a-while trip here when we have money is ok for sampling. The proprietress recommended the Baltika as her favorite beer. I was surprised to see how many varieties (or "grades") the brand puts out.

This is what I had to drink. The neon green color captured my attention. The label says "tarhun" and it definitely tastes different than your average American carbonated beverage. Supposedly, it was originally created in a Georgian pharmacy when a pharmacist mixed some carbonated water with tarragon syrup. Pic found here

We had lunch at the Euro mart. My husband wanted to try the gyros, and our friend had never even heard of them. So, we ordered some. I was a little disappointed by the inclusion of lettuce with the gyros (I'd never heard of such a thing prior to coming out to Arizona because all the gyro places in Chicago never did that. I still think it's an abomination), but the rest of it was good. It wasn't bad price wise and to wash it down, I had a bottle of Russian pop. It was neon green in color and tasted like anise, but the English translation of the label listed it as being made from tarragon seeds and vanilla extract. It wasn't bad, just different. I almost picked a bottle of kvass to drink, but decided lunchtime was too early to be drinking alcoholic beverages, even if they're low alcohol. Our friend had some of the gyro and was impressed with it. I told my husband next time we came that we would have the cabbage rolls ("sarma" in Serbian). I wanted to see how they were made as compared to what my grandma made when I was growing up.

Overall, my thoughts on our trip to the Euro mart were positive. Yes, it's expensive, but it's a specialty store catering to a small community. I won't let the prices stop me from coming here when I need stuff like fillo dough or Slavic beers, just because they're things I can't get elsewhere.

After we paid and left, we took our friend grocery shopping so she could get some needed items and then took her home. She was grateful for the errand and was immensely pleased with our car.

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