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Currently living in Peru, originally from the US...just got to thinking about this:<br><br>
The local markets here are basically entirely local food (some imported from other South American countries, but all of the food is within the umbrella of Peruvian cuisine) and the supermarkets which cater to the rich/better traveled elites aren't much more varied. At the supermarket, I can get some basic ingredients for Italian, Chinese, Japanese food and the rare American import (like boxed mac & cheese). Even with that, there is a sizable Chinese and Japanese immigrant population which has had a definite influence on Peruvian food, so I wouldn't even call those "ethnic" food for here. All in all, I would not call the selection of food here diverse. I will admit that being pregnant and having such a limited selection of ingredients has not helped my eating: I have so many cravings and no way to cook them here!<br><br>
Compare this to where I was living in the US, a small, middle class college town: besides a huge variety of ethnic restaurants, even the local supermarkets carried just a way bigger range of foods. Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Chinese, Japanese, Thai...I could easily get affordable basic ingredients for these cuisines at my local Krogers. That's not taking into account the ethnic grocery stores, which have a much wider variety of foods within a specific cuisine. I do know that in rural areas, the selection is much less; but still, even my Grandma's Krogers wayyyy out in the backwoods of rural Michigan offers the basics for Mexican, Asian and Middle Eastern ingredients.<br><br>
My question is this: does anyone know if this kind of ethnic variety at the local supermarket is specific to the US? Is it just because the US is a nation of immigrants? Or is this common in all Western countries with large immigrant populations? What about well-off Western countries without large immigrant populations but with a well-traveled "foodie" population? Is Europe like this as well? I am really curious...
 

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<p>It totally depends on where you are.  When I lived in London all the grocery stores had a huge diversity of ethnic foods, but the stores in Winchester UK had very little.</p>
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<p>When I lived in Omaha NE the grocery stores had very little ethnic food (outside of laChoy soy sauce) but there were ethnicity-specific stores that had great selections.  Here in the Bay Area there is both cuisine diversity in the big-box stores as well as lots of stand alone ethnic stores.</p>
 

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<p>I can only speak for the Spain (outside of the US)... there, most people shop at a dozen different shops and goto the super market only occasionally for basic stuff (ie, they goto a butcher shop, a cheese store, a produce store, a bakery, etc)... the super markets had a fiarly wide range of ingredients, much like the US, though in more limited quantities. Mind you this was in a smallish city (salamanca). I don't think I ever really went to a big supermarket in barcelona/madrid/valencia/etc. :shrug  The one thing that I recall being amazingly hard to find that we all craved was peanut butter. Apparently PB is a truly american food. :p</p>
 

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<p>I live in Italy and my experience is that only larger supermarkets in large cities sell a considerable number of foreign products, and even then, what they have wouldn't even fill an eighth of an aisle. In smaller supermarkets you might find soy sauce or worcester (sp.?) sauce or some other condiment, but they'd just be in with other Italian sauces, not in a separate section obviously. In cities with large immigrant populations, there are often specialty shops that sell imported goods, but few Italians frequent them. I would say most Italians aren't interested in non-Italian cuisines...many don't even care for food from other regions of Italy.</p>
 

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<p>I think it depends where you live. In Australia there was a much bigger variety of ethnic foods in any supermarket than I have seen in Rochester NY or London, Ontario.</p>
 
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