Do you know this feeling when you see a dear homeland food product on a supermarket shelf while travelling or being a resident in another country? You won’t help controlling this scream of delight escaping from you.
If you are coming from west Europe, you will definitely notice – when it comes to International food – how Zagreb market is not as open as the other Western European countries market. But don’t be disappointed as since Croatia joined the European union in 2013, it became possible for many shops to import those unique products which wasn’t possible for you to find here before.
We met Bilal El Mawla the owner of Byblos Lebanese sweets & roastery in King cross. Bilal is married to a Croatian and he has a son. it wasn’t until recently when he decided to come and live in Croatia with his small family. He thought of opening a Lebanese shop with original products from his home land specially as his family has a long business experience in this field and they can provide him with all the products needed. After getting all the required documents, permissions and all legal procedures, the shop was officially opened on 4th of September of this year.
Bilal gets his fresh products by plane directly from Lebanon. Baklava and kunafa are freshly made by his brother filled with Pistachio, Pine and nuts in a unique combination flavored with the Lebanese taste. Also available in his shop dates and dates juice in addition to a very special coating for nuts, and hummus weather it is cheese with spices or sugar. Shawerma spices, curry, fresh black pepper, plus Tehini, rose water and many other freshly imported products directly shipped from Lebanon to Croatia.
Bilal discovered that Croatians have great experience in travelling abroad and are familiar with his products. The first question they ask him is “Is this original?”and the answer is sure it is.
We then met Josip Madunić and Andrea Kesho, who opened their shop (Pekinška Patka) two years ago. During their travels abroad they discovered many new delicious tastes they didn’t know about in Croatia, their homeland.
Josip changed many jobs until finally he decided to become his own boss and practice his hobby of helping people in finding the products they miss. And that’s how the idea of the international minimarket was born. Josip found it funny how some Croatians mistake his shop for a pet shop, as they are not used to this kind of products, but it gives him pleasure to see Asians, or Mexicans entering his shop and recognizing their own homeland products. The shop has a great variety of Indian, Arabic, Mexican, Japanese food products such as Grapes leaves, Tahini, oriental bread, original variety of Soy sauce and much more. Most of the products are canned but Josip and Andrea are dreaming of buying a freezer where they can store imported frozen vegetables.
Their shop is at Vlaška 78
We also met Rasoul ALrofei known as Rene among his friends and loyal customers. He came to Croatia as a student more than 25 years ago. He finished his studies in tourism. After working in tourism for a short period he started his own business which was related to importing and exporting different products such as clothes, shoes, but was not satisfied with the financial revenue. At the same time Every visit to his family in Iraq or any trip to west Europe had one big struggle, his bags weight, Bags that were mostly filled with food products which he can’t find in Croatia.
He had the idea of the shop for many years but it was finally possible when Croatia joined the European union in 2013, where importing and examining the products could be easily done through ships arriving in Hamburg, Germany.
His shop was celebrated by the Croatian media and he was interviewed many times by TV and famous Croatian newspapers. Rene enjoys being in his shop welcoming the customers and giving them recopies for the Arabic products they buy, as Arabic cooking is his passion.
When we asked him about the most popular product in his shop he said (dates) as he has more than 15 kinds of Arabic dates imported from the Arabic countries and not comparable with the dates you find in the supermarkets.
his shop is at Trg Ante Starčevića, Importanne Centar
That was our tour among the International food shops in Zagreb, We are sure there is still more to discover and more stories to share.
Zagreb Market is just starting to open up, so feel free to share your experience with new discoveries with us.