Silicon Valley

I have shopped in many different countries but nothing compares to shopping around here. You can, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day where even the food chain Safeway closes mid afternoon, shop all week - and at Safeway 24 hours per day. So don't despair if your plane comes in late at night from visiting the old country; you can still fill up the fridge with fresh milk and get bread and essentials.

The Valley has ethnic stores and restaurants from all over the world but the major supermarket chains also have foods from a big variety of countries. The Mexican kitchen is obviously front and center but you will also find Japanese, Chinese, Indian, kosher, German, Thai, Greek... specialities. Cost Plus World Market is a strange mixed goods chain that carries international foods and wine but also furniture and knick knack from a variety of places.

There are other stores with World Market in the names. On San Antonio Rd in Palo Alto you can find a small World Market with a huge selection of Middle Eastern specialities, teas, frozen meats, misc. condiments, European chocolate, even salty licorice, a treat among Dutch, Danes, and Finns and ineatable to almost anybody else. On the corner of Grant and El Camino in Los Altos is a Japanese market with sushi grade fish and seaweed. On El Camino, also in Los Altos, is Dietmer, the German butcher, who will cut meats the way you ask for and has the whole wall filled with recognitions for best sausages. IKEA sells Swedish foods. Don't despair, whatever you may dream of from you kitchen back home can be obtained if you search for it.

It is not only the variety of goods that characterize the American super markets. It is also size. Whole Foods in Cupertino is the biggest supermarket I have visited - ever. They often have interesting things to offer - would you care for an emu egg? When we have visitors from Europe one of the excursions is to take them out shopping. It is always a hit.

Another chain that is very characteristic for the Valley is Fry's. It is an electronics supermarket. In the consumer end you can find DVDs, hair dryers, refrigerators, TVs... Are you looking for a volt-meter, a 3 ohm resistor, a soldering iron for electronics, a motherboard, you have also come to the right place. If you pass the store just before 7 o'clock in the morning you may see a flock of geeks waiting for the shop to open so they can get that fuse or chip or other missing piece of hardware that they discovered an urgent need for around 3 this morning. Fortunately they can also get a cup of coffee and a bagel when the store opens.

Each store are decorated in some theme. The original small Fry's in Palo Alto has a hot air ballon, a moose, rearing horses and proud Indians (sorry, Native Americans), a full size steam train engine, cowboys. If this is not enough to capture the interest of you kids, the aisle for computer games probably will.