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Market merges over 25 European food cultures

European Market began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1999. Photo: Nick Zukowski

It’s a regular evening at European Market No. 4 on Woodruff Road. Sandwiched between a gold and silver store and a comic book store, the store has clean white floors and the walls are painted shades of yellow and orange. The cashier chats with a customer in Russian while she rings up her purchases.

“We started [European Market] because people were asking about food from different countries,” owner Natalia Sokil said. European Market sells products from over 25 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Italy and England. Except for the meats, which are from the U.S. due to regulations, and the pastries which are made in-house, everything is imported from Europe or overseas.

Some of the unique products that European Market offers are paczki – Polish donuts – and pelminki – Russian gingerbread cookies. In addition, European Market offers a selection of meats including Russian sausage, cheeses, such as smoked cheese, breads including Russian black bread and sweets like pastries and chocolates. For dorm cooking, Sokil recommends a cabbage roll. “[Students] can just warm it up and eat,” Sokil said.

European Market began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1999.
Photo: Nick Zukowski

Freshman graphic design major Ashley Brown found out about European Market through her Russian aunt. “They had Russian snacks that I hadn’t had in a really long time, so I got really excited,” said Brown, who grew up in Russia. Brown said the layout of the store was very similar to stores in Russia. Brown has tried a variety of products from European Market including black bread, chocolate-covered cheesecake and non-alcoholic beer. Brown recommends sushki, a slightly sweet cracker that is eaten with coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

Brown said her favorite parts of European Market are the Russian snacks and other small things. “It’s different from American snacks, I don’t know how to explain it. It tastes different.” Brown loves their Russian tomato juice. “I can’t stand American tomato juice,” Brown said. “If you can’t afford to go to Europe, go to European Market,” Brown said.

Junior engineering student Benjamin Withrow discovered European Market through Google. “My mother is from Europe so I kind of grew up with [European food],” Withrow said. The desire to find authentic European food led Withrow to European Market. The store had food and snacks that Withrow grew up with. “You only see [European food] in these little stores run by people who grew up with [it],” Withrow said. Withrow loves European Market’s black bread and Russian honey ginger cookies. He also enjoys the atmosphere. “The people are very friendly,” Withrow said. “[European Market has a] very personable, approachable, very friendly atmosphere.”

Withrow has also taken friends with him to European Market, including junior graphic design major Zane Trively. “They have things that you wouldn’t necessarily find anywhere else,” Trively said. When he last went, he purchased Jewish instant coffee, eggplant rolls and Cadbury chocolates. Trively says he hasn’t regretted anything he has bought from the market.

“Give other cultures a shot,” Trively said. “A lot of times some of the best options aren’t necessarily what’s here in your backyard but what’s across the seas.”