On the corner of Highland and Park Avenue the Mediterranean Grocery, Inc. sells groceries and prepares Mediterranean food for people on-the-go and for those who crave the warming benefits of slow cooked food.
The store, located at 3561 Park Ave., is owned by Sami Abdelfattah.
On a typical morning, Abdelfattah sips his Arabic coffee while welcoming new customers and regulars into the store for their daily grocery runs and adventurous shopping experience, which is a bazaar-like scene. They have every spice and tea imaginable as well as ornate and decorative serving platters and kitchen tools.
“We buy our chickens from Crescent Farms in Wisconsin and everything is fresh daily,” Abdelfattah said.
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that women who slightly tweaked their meat and potatoes diet to allow room for more Mediterranean diet were 40 percent less likely to develop chronic diseases, memory loss or have as many mental health issues. They are also more likely to maintain their mobility well into retirement.
As a breast cancer survivor and vegetarian food lover who has lived in Memphis for 11 years, she values that clean bill of health she went through chemotherapy and radiation to regain.
A very happy woman, Ilayan is bustling around the kitchen preparing Wednesday’s specials: A white bean soup with halal beef and mother’s rice scented with saffron, perfectly golden and aromatic. Kufta kabab, essentially a spicy, tomato based gravy that has pieces of kabob swimming in it, is served with the mother’s rice for $9.99 and warms the insides.
“For vegetarians today, I have spinach pies and for non-vegetarians mince meat pies,” said Ilayan, who handed me the warm triangle of fluffy pastry filled with spinach and other fillings.
The deli staples include: gyro, baba ghanoush, humus, falafel sandwich, dolmas and baklava for those with a sweet tooth.
“The dolmas are grape leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables. Actually, parsley, onion, olive oil and garlic give them their specific taste,” Ilayan said.
A small display of intricate looking Russian pastries by the yogurt section were for sale on Wednesday.
"Something new this week," Abdelfattah said.
People on this diet tend to eat more fish, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, berries, fruit and vegetables and the store is filled with canned fishes that can be used in all sorts of cooking scenarios.
The stuffed grape leaves pair well with the baba ghanoush, a complicated eggplant dip that the Mediterranean grocery store has perfected. A unique feature of the menu is their falafel sandwich that has a nice sriache-esque kick to each bite.
The store is conveniently open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the lunch special’s change daily, and University of Memphis students receive a 10 percent discount at the deli.