Do you tend to buy your ethnic ingredients from the same country origin?
By ethnic, I mean non-American.
I drove to my local Indian store to buy my Indian spices. When I bought my fish sauce, I prefer it is from Vietnam. Yesterday, I was buying soba noodle, and I was flipping over each of the bags to see if it is made in Japan. This is far from a hard rule, and I am especially relax when I know the background of the product. For example, I was buying my soy sauce from Yuet Hueng Yuen despite that it was made in Canada at the time. Still, there is definitely a bias -- as small as it may be.
What about you? Any preference?
Buy ethnic. yes, though in the following manner.
For products used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine, as many products as possible from Japan and Taiwan, avoiding wherever possible anything from the mainland. Products from Korea and Vietnam for specific ingredients related to those cuisines.
I do follow this one. I always check dried shitakes, for example, to make sure they're not from the mainland (the local ones taste better anyways).
I go ingredient by ingredient. For miso, buying the Japan brand is definitely worth the extra money, compared to the Taiwanese brands. Bacon - imported over local, because the local version just doesn't taste the same.
Vegetables - in general, local if possible, but I prefer imported grapes, for pesticide reasons (grapes are hard to scrub, and I like eating the skins).
Wine - *definitely* imported. I'll use vinegar as a substitute rather than use local wine. Or possibly turpentine. (Yes, it's that bad).
For me it does depend on the cost/quality/availability matrix. If I can get something locally made that's cheaper and good enough for what I'm doing, I'll buy it. If the imported stuff is worth the cost, or the local version doesn't taste as good, then I'll spring for the more expensive version.
I find when I go out of my way to get a recipe exactly authentic it bleeds all the magic out of the dish. It's better to do your best but not go over-board in the sourcing department.
I am biased towards the country of origin for specific ingredients. Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chablis from France. herb and spice blends definitely reflect country of use. I use nah prik on Thai and Vietnamese dishes and Sriracha on US editions of those cuisines.
So I am definitely inclined to look for country of origin.
Greek ingredients come from Greece.
not France (you'd be surprised!)
not the middle east
< I do a lot of Chinese cooking, but many ingredients or produce are now made or grown in the US: tofu.....>
Yes, but you probably buy tofu made in US from a Chinese company, as opposed to tofu made in US from a US company, right? This is what I did for the Canadian made soy sauce. It was made by a company which has a Chinese root.
Yes, a number of them are companies with Chinese roots but the factories and fields are in the US. But there are other smaller, local companies that manufacture their products in the US from US ingredients, including tofu, noodles, and sausages. The produce is almost entirely grown in the US or Mexico.