On February 6, athletes from 88 different nations will parade across one stage at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. For many Americans, the event will be a reminder of the athletic world’s incredible diversity and Ralph Lauren’s even more incredible taste in outfits.
I, on the other hand, will probably just be hungry. The games always inspire my taste buds’ desire for international cuisine—particularly the grocery-store kind, which can be carried to go and eaten in front of the television for the figure-skating finals.
Read on for some of the Windy City’s best international grocery stores for satiating Sochi-inspired cravings.
FRANCE | Chicago French Market (West Loop | 131 N. Clinton St.) | Be sure to browse the 30 vendors for cheeses, baguettes, and crepes.
GREAT BRITAIN | Gaelic Imports (Jefferson Park | 6346 W. Gunnison St.) | Look for lorne sausage, haggis, and homemade shortbread. | Spencer’s Jolly Posh Foods (Lakeview | 1405 W. Irving Park Rd.) | Browse the broader spectrum of British cuisine, including cheeses, chocolates, biscuits, and crisps.
ITALY | J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. (West Loop | 901 W. Randolph St.) | Look for the antipasta tray, which is pretty much designed for marathon TV viewing. | Eataly (River North | 43 E. Ohio St.)
Sneak a draft brew at Eataly's second-floor birreria while you navigate the fresh pastas, seafood, and meats at the butcher’s counter. Come prepared: Eataly is big—so big, it’s almost its own country. Read our travel guide to navigate its aisles smoothly.
NORWAY | Wikstrom’s (online-only store based out of Palatine) | Look for Göteborg sausage and limpa bread.
SWEDEN | The Sweden Shop (North Park | 3304 W. Foster Ave.) | Look for lingonberry preserves and Arvid Nordquist coffee.
SWITZERLAND | Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland (River North | 900 N. Michigan Ave., Level 5) | Look for Swiss chocolate bars and truffles.
EASTERN EUROPE | City Fresh Market (West Rogers Park | 3201 W. Devon Ave. and West Loop | 117 N. Clinton St.) | Look for burek, a savory baked pastry of phyllo dough filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables, made in-house.
SOUTH KOREA | Joong Boo Mart (Avondale | 3333 N. Kimball Ave.)
Before hitting the aisles, stop at the café for a fresh-made bowl of veggie bibimbap. As Chic-A-Go-Go star Mia Park taught us, douse the dish in equal parts of the oil and hot sauce, then slice the egg with a spoon, then toss everything, making sure egg, rice, and veggies get equally coated with the bright-red sauce.
CHINA | Richwell Market (Chinatown | 1835 S. Canal St.) Look for hoisin sauce, numerous different dumplings, and fresh ginger. Then, stop by Hong Kong Market (Chinatown | 2425 S. Wallace St.) for fresh scallops, a variety of noodles, and ingredients for a hot-pot meal, including broths and thinly sliced meats.
JAMAICA | Old World Market (Uptown | 5129 N. Broadway, #1) | Even though Jamaica isn’t a top Winter Olympic competitor, the spirit of everyone’s favorite Olympic film, Cool Runnings, is alive and well here. Look for scotch-bonnet peppers, jerk seasonings, and goat meat.
Eataly photo: Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Groupon; Joong Boo Market photo: Stephanie Bassos, Groupon