The International Grocery Store:
Fun From Anise to Zatar
By Alicia Z. Klepeis
Even the youngest learners will be fascinated by
containers featuring text in different languages
or bulk bins filled with spices, dried fruits, or
nuts that don’t look familiar.
Week in, week out, the food shopping always needs to be done. Homeschooling parents regularly take
their children shopping, but not all grocery stores are created equal (either in
terms of selection or what students can
learn from them). As a child, my mother
loved to take me to the Italian food stores
in Boston’s North End and the Asian
supermarkets in Chinatown. From soy
sauce to seaweed, homeschoolers can
learn much about the world around
them. Cookbooks, calculators, and computers are all tools that might be helpful
in this international food adventure!
Exploring international or ethnic
grocery stores is a great learning activ-
ity for any time of the year. It’s also an
enjoyable way to learn about a city or
foreign country if you are traveling.
Depending on where you live, you may
have many choices for ethnic markets.
A fun way to begin this unit is by brainstorming about what is sold at the grocery store and how grocery stores might
vary from place to place (e.g., rural
vs. urban stores, American vs. foreign
markets). Students of all ages can look
through your pantry, spice drawer, and
refrigerator to learn where various ingredients come from, as well as to discover
what kind of cooking these items are affiliated with. For example, they might
find out that your can of coconut milk
comes from the Philippines or that turmeric is often used in Indian cooking.