I always visit grocery stores when I travel--for me they're mini (or not so mini) museums. The food is fascinating--it's at once all the same and yet so different from what I find back home.
Vancouver is an excellent grocery town. The downtown seems to have markets everywhere you turn. Within two blocks I passed a huge Safeway, a Capers (a Whole Foods affiliate) and a small neighborhood market. The small neighborhood markets pop up every couple blocks, and supply city dwellers with much of their needs. Produce stands line the sidewalks in front, and inside you find a decent, albeit small, selection of most of what you might desire.
The Safeway was much like mine. Well, except at mine they don't sell Riedel glassware, Cuisinart appliances, and Le Creuset cookware on the aisles.
Not to mention 'NoNuts' peanut butter (made with peas, apparently, instead of peanuts). Or jars of duo penotti (a Dutch hazelnut/chocolate spread--a bit like nutella).
Oh--a quick aside. Vancouver is full of Dutch surprises--I stocked up on drop (the salty or not so salty licorice), and they have a chain of Dutch pancake houses (which I've still never visited).
Pavel and I stopped at another grocery store one evening for a box of cookies to have with our tea. One hour later we left with the cookies, and a box of Post Shreddies to take back to our son who lives off cereal and milk between meals. Is cereal a normal gift to bring home?
But we also found a couple oddities (which is why it took an hour to get one box of cookies). For example, these 6 lb. vats of margarine. And they weren't alone--most of the margarines were packed in super-size tubs, at least 3 lb tubs.
And then there was this bag of chips. On closer examination, it's some sort of contest--maybe going on here in the U.S. as well? But who buys a bag of 'unidentified flavor' chips?
Maybe the same person who buys containers of grapples. But I'll write more about those another day.