Dear Two Fat Als: Grocery Conundrum

Yay for this feature! We (mostly, me) are so obsessed! Slight feeling this may be a reader from the room on the other side of the wall... meet us for snack at 11? An excellent question in any case, and one about which Two Fat Als have definitely given a lot of thought. Please keep submitting, everyone! Email alannak@sas.upenn.edu.

Dear Two Fat Al's,

I am new to the Philadelphia/Penn area, and have been following your great blog. Everything you make looks delicious, but I am worried about obtaining all of the ingredients you use in your recipes. Do you have any advice for someone on a tight budget on how to get the freshest and tastiest ingredients for the best prices? Where are the best stores to buy from in the area? When and where are the local markets? Where can I get hard to find ingredients? Please help.

Poor and puzzled at Penn

Dear P Squared,

When overwhelmed with questions, categorize:

The best places to buy produce are definitely the farmers markets. Fruits and vegetables cost the same as at the local food stores, and the quality is supremely better. Find links to all of the local markets here, and visit specific web sites for their schedules.
Meat and Fish: Sadly, we have found that good meat and fish meat can be hard to come by near Penn's campus. For decent prices and great goods, one might travel to the Italian market (9th and Catherine). A closer but overpriced option would be Reading Terminal Market (13th and Market). We'll buy chicken, sometimes red meat, and the occasional tilapia fillet at the Fresh Grocer (40th and Walnut), which is awesome at being close to our apartments-- not so much at selling good food. Ofen, it is best to buy frozen from Trader Joe's (22nd and Market).
Hard-to-find Ingredients: West Philadelphia has amazing ethnic and specialty stores. Supreme Supermarket (43rd and Walnut) has a huge Asian foods section (you can also head to the stores in Chinatown for this, but that requires public transport) and also a decent selection of South American ingredients. Check out Mecca Market (42nd and Walnut) for middle eastern goodies, including the best baklava ever, as well as the Indian spice shop down the block.

Two Fat Als