Thursday, October 26, 2006

Food, glorious food

Following on the food theme, I am being spoiled rotton by cheap supermarket prices here. LA is one of the most expensive cities in the US (I am pulling that fact out of my ass, so there) but when compared to the prices I was used to in London, it's a bargain.

Part of the savings come from the fact that the US is so large, and has such a varied climate. All kinds of produce and meat can be raised and harvested, transported cheaply and passed on to the consumer with little effort.

Our regular grocery stop, Albertsons, is fairly basic. Not as well-stocked as an average Tesco or Sainsburys, but with all the basics and a large, cheap meat section. The deals they have are amazing to my British wallet; 10 items for $10, 24 cans of soda for $4, fresh pineapple for 99¢ a pound ... things that are unheard of even in the best of supermarket sales where I grew up.

And then there's Trader Joe's. I adore Traders, when I am brave enough to face the crowds it draws. Traders is a little like Waitrose or Marks and Spencer in that most of their food is organic, healthy and a quite posh. What they have over the aforementioned stores is that it's also cheap, and the people who work there are quite lovely. I've yet to meet a grumpy worker in our local store, and they're always ready to chat and joke with us at the checkout.

Of course, my favorite place to go grocery hunting is Mitsuwa, my local Japanese grocery. What they lack in sales and bargains they make up for in quality of fresh produce and the sheer joy of poking around foreign food. The import prices are very good and there's something childishly gleeful about browsing the isles and filling my basket.

Despite all these wonderful bargains and the quality of foods available to me here, I still miss my English grub. Walker's crisps, GOOD cheddar (none of this orange crap that passes for cheese here), Branston's pickle, Heinz Salad Cream, HP Sauce, custard creams, Jammy Dodgers and rich tea biscuits. And don't get me started on fish and chips with mushy peas.

Still, you win some you lose some. Being a budding cook, I have to say the quality and price of ingredients here makes me utterly joyful. And besides, I can always take a weekend trip to Tudor House at Santa Monica to get my OXO cubes.


At 10/27/2006 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There actually used to be Albertsons' food markets here in Houston before they pulled out of the market. One supermarket chain here in town, Fiesta, has a smorgasbord of groceries, including stuff from around the world! My favorite, however, has to be this state-wide chain called H-E-B (don't ask what it stands for, you might laugh... okay, it's named after the founder, Herbert E. Butt-- I'm NOT making this up!) because not only is it very well stocked, but it has a section where there is freshly made sushi!

*whines* I want a Japanese grocery place near where I live...

-Geoni (aka Yaji)


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