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Aug 23, 2006 06:32 PM

Which is better for spices? Penzeys or Christina's?

Heading on a spree this weekend. I've ordered from Penzeys online in the past but have never been to the store. I am better off there or Christina's in Cambridge?


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  1. Christina's is way overpriced. If you can get it an an Indian store, that's the cheapest. If you can get it at an Armenian store, that's pretty cheap too. Penzey's is expensive but more worth the money since they have such interesting stuff.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Luther

      I think it depends on what you get at Christina's -- their prices on things like Maldon Sea Salt and star anise and such are in line with other places. I buy most of my spices at an Indian grocery as well, but I wouldn't rule Christina's out if it's convenient.

      Still haven't been to Penzey's because I don't trust myself. Ha!

      1. re: Luther

        Respectfully, Luther:

        Christina's spices are "way overpriced" compared to what? I agree that the Indian stores are inexpensive, but can you point out something specific where there's a big difference between the two? When I've looked at salt, peppercorns and whole spices like cumin and coriander, Christina's costs MUCH LESS than supermarkets and I can't imagine going much lower.

        As far as "interesting stuff" is concerned, I'd say Christinas' section is plenty interesting. Dozens of herbs and spices, whole and ground, several types of peppercorns (whole and ground), flavored salts (e.g. Lime, Saffron), a section of tea leaves, a section of chocolates, dried fruits, powdered chiles, dried chiles, dried 'shrooms (not only spices, this is true).

        And, for what it's worth, Christina's has a much less corporate atmosphere than Penzey's.

        Sorry to go on the offensive, but I'm an unabashed fan of Christina's. Having said all that, if you have more specific criticisms or examples where Boston hounds could do better, I'm all ears.

      2. Next time you're ordering online, another one to consider is World Merchants in Seattle. Some of their blends are really top-notch. The site is Enjoy...

        1. both christina's and penzeys have good quality. you may just want to base your decision on what is near by, and take into account things like turnover rate and are you able to buy in small quantities? because let's face it -- there are a lot of spices that you only need a tiny amount, and definitely turn over is important because you want the freshest spices you can lay your hands on. and also, are you looking for spice blends? because penzey's does a lot of cool ones -- for salad dressings, chicken rubs, etc.

          if you decide to stick around cambridge, there's formaggio kitchen too:

          1. I'm a Spice House man.


            Family of Penzeys - but separate businesses. There's a story I've forgotten, but I don't think they're acrimonious.

            1. Christina's has everything Penzey's has plus much much more, especially in the mushroom, salt, and chili departments.

              I like Penzey's but find the store a little antiseptic, like a hospital, way too neat. They are, however, my go to for vanilla beans, which are always fresh, never folded, and a great value at $6.95 for three.