In this part of the country, the source is likely to be our friends Nazan and Eddi Macarian, who own a wholesale food company called Macar and Sons, Inc. in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Here's the really good news for those of you around the country who don't have access to a good local Middle Eastern store: You can get your ingredients from the same source by mail order.
The Macarians began with a retail grocery business in Sunrise, Florida in 1992. When they had trouble finding Middle Eastern ingredients, they decided to switch gears and go into the Middle Eastern ingredient wholesale business in 1994. They’ve been at it ever since.
The Macarians provide a dizzying array of products to shops and restaurants throughout South Florida as well as Orlando, Tampa, and Naples.
We've known Nazan, Eddi and their two sons for more than 10 years, but I hadn't visited their business until recently. As Eddi stresses, it's not a retail shop so there's no storefront. In fact, as you drive up to their building, you’d never know a business existed.
There’s no exterior sign, just a number on the door marking their entrance. Upon entering, you step immediately into their modest office. A few steps to the rear, and you are in "The Warehouse."
The first thing you see is a small showroom brimming with samples of their goods. I felt like a kid in a candy store! I’ve seen a lot of Middle Eastern ingredients in my day, but I have to admit, there were items I’d never heard of before.
Nazan was kind enough to do a "show-and-tell" for me. For instance, she showed me a tiny packet of white-ish pellets, called mastic gum (Mastica), which is sap from an evergreen shrub from the pistachio tree family. She said it’s an ancient Greek ingredient used in making chorag. A small amount is mashed, then added to the other chorag ingredients. This I did not know!
Continuing the tour, Nazan pointed out carob syrup, mulberry molasses, shelf-stable Monti made with - are you ready?- tofu!
Then there is the rice flour and wheat starch that are used as thickening agents. Moving along Nazan explained that they carry commercial-size eggplant pulp for restaurant use - a real preparation time-saver, and pressed dates for use in recipes.
Not all products are available all of the time. When in season, they carry specialty dried products, such as okra, mulberries, and eggplant skins.
The Macarians carry a number of Armenian products. Large Ak-mak crackers, flat soujouk, ready-made Monti, Armenian string cheese, lahmajoun, tahn, thick madzoon, matnakash - a traditional, soft Armenian bread. I could go on forever.
Mail orders are shipped via Federal Express or UPS. Besides the cost of food, the customer is responsible for shipping costs which can be expensive depending on the product’s weight.
Eddi, Nazan, and son, George Macarian are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Want to place an order? Have any questions? Contact them at:
Phone: 954 - 571-9505
Fax: 954 - 571-9504