Jay International Foods: Global Groceries in St. Louis
St. Louis may not have a reputation as an international city, but it’s home to over 100 ethnic populations, according to the International Institute. First-generation diaspora communities from Europe, Africa, and Asia have contributed to the city’s cultural diversity and its food scene. Jay International, a grocery store in the South Grand neighborhood, caters to the full spectrum of St. Louisans.
National flags hang above the store aisles, and shelves are packed with items from Japan, China, India, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ireland, England, and a whole bunch of other countries. They sell produce, meat, and dairy, but the real draw is the huge selection of hard-to-find packaged goods from around the world.
Prices are cheap. We found a box of our favorite Walker’s Scottish shortbread cookies for about a buck less than we usually pay. In addition to sauces, teas, spices, and candies, they carry inexpensive dishes and cooking tools from Japan and China.
On our visit, the staff seemed a little frazzled, so we recommend going prepared. Bring a shopping list, and know that you might not be able to find someone who can help if you have questions. Jay International doesn’t have a website; it’s purely a brick and mortar grocery store.
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Photos: Sarah Coffey, Selection of World Flags: Wikimedia Commons