The Skeptical Consumer: Bill’s Imported Foods

One of the nicest things about living in East Cambridge, Massachusetts — other than the proximity to the infamous “Live Poultry, Fresh Killed” sign — was being able to walk over to Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods on the weekend.

Christina’s had all manner of crazy spices, herbal teas, exotic bulk grains and these amazing dried strawberries that my wife and I used to buy by the half-pound and finish off every week.

It turns out Minneapolis has a local equivalent, and I’m thrilled to death. I’m certainly not the first to discover Bill’s Imported Foods at Lyndale and Lake Street, but I’m excited to share the experience with the zeal of a recent convert.

The place is chockablock with the riff-raff and whatnot from Mediterranean countries ranging from Greece to Bulgaria to Turkey to Egypt to Morocco, with others thrown in for good measure. Exotic pepper spreads, piles of olives (fresh and cured), pita and lavash, baklava and more exotic baked treats — it’s a small store, but there’s a lot packed onto those little shelves.

There are also some curveballs. Big-ass frozen boxes of gyro meat for $15. Plugra (European extra-rich butter) for less than $4 a pound. Tillamook cheddar (good stuff!) for $6 a pound. All manner of exotic crackers and biscuits, and a great price on cornichons, which are currently in heavy rotation whenever I mix up an in-house mezze platter.

And, oh yeah. Dried strawberries. Good ones, too, not the overpriced candy-tasting things they have over at Trader Joe’s. It’s like being back in Cambridge again. Minus the insane drivers.

5 Comments so far

  1. ranty (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

    Bill’s definitely rocks. The owner/cashier/matriarch Kiki is a total hoot too, once you get past her occasional brusque-ness.

  2. Kal (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 9:31 am

    make sure to get your hands on a jar of Makdoos. the amazing appetizer from Lebanon of spicy walnut stuffed baby eggplants pickled in olive oil.

    We Love Bill Imported Foods!! Second favorite is Holy Land On Central Ave. Make sure to check that one out, you won’t regret a minute of it.

    Good Luck, keep culture alive!

  3. James Norton (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 9:48 am

    Good call. I’ve been meaning to get out to Holy Land for a few weeks, ever since I tried their fantastic cucumber sauce (sold at Kowalski’s). On a related note, the frozen falafel sticks at Kowalski’s are surprisingly decent.

  4. Robin Marty (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    you can never go wrong with 8 kinds of feta

  5. Erica M (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

    Sheee-it, y’all are gonna make me go to Holy Land, like, tonight. I was already jonesing for some hummus.

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