ARAB VILLAGE MARKET
As producers of Food Network’s popular series Keith Famie’s Adventures, the Visionalist crew has had the opportunity to visit specialty food markets all over the world. The one gold standard by which we anticipate quality? How seductive the scents are when you first walk in.
By this criterion, Dearborn’s Arab Village Market on Dix and Wyoming (directly opposite the new mosque) is a star. The mix of spices and fresh fruit mingle as an inviting mist at the front door, where you are immediately confronted with a number of staples of Arabic cooking: nuts and olives.
Owner Farid Saad is soon there to greet you; we came with cameras, but weren’t fooled to believe that his hospitality had an ulterior marketing motive: we watched him meet and greet customers, both new and familiar, throughout the day.
Saad came to the United States from Lebanon in 1969, and went to work, like many of his Lebanese brethren, in Ford’s Rouge plant. After a dozen years, he was ready for a little self-sufficiency, and with the blessing of his wife, purchased a small grocery market in Dearborn. “We carried lots of stuff from overseas,” he says, “and with God’s help, little by little, we grew into this…”
‘This’ is one of the most respected and authentic Arabian markets in metro Detroit. Says business partner David Saad, Farid’s eldest son, “When newcomers, immigrants or visitors, come to Dearborn, Arab Village Market is one of the first places they stop. Here we carry most of the important food stuffs they’re used to, items you really can’t find anywhere else.”
This includes vegetables that non-Arabs find exotic and delicious, varieties of peppers, pickles, fruits and vegetables that simply aren’t carried at Kroger’s or Costco, but which are irreplaceable in genuine-tasting Arabic recipes.
As food people, such a local resource is worth its weight in gold, and we spent hours perusing the available imports with the gusto of a Lit major in a world-class library.
The hospitality of Farid and David, along with their helpful, fully bilingual staff was icing on the cake… namura (Arabic semolina and yogurt cake), of course.