Second Helpings

Market Watch: Not very long ago, Valley residents looking for any ethnic food except soy sauce had to make an excursion to Los Angeles. Things sure have changed. These days, every supermarket carries aisles of once-exotic products.

Why? Let's give credit where credit is due--the magic of capitalism. More and more ethnic-food markets are springing up all over the town, and the competition for our rice noodle, tahini, black bean sauce, coconut milk, mascarpone cheese, nopales, star fruit, basmati rice and pomegranate paste dollars is fierce.

And now it's getting fiercer still. Two new ethnic markets, one on the west side and one in central Phoenix, are making food shopping even more fun than it usually is.

It's easy to whiz past World Market Place. It's one of the few tenants in a gigantic shopping center at the southeast corner of 59th Avenue and Northern. You won't have any trouble finding a parking spot. You will, however, have a problem getting out of here in under an hour.

That's because this megamarket is truly a world marketplace, with goodies from just about every country on the planet. Choose from Italian scungilli; Korean kim chee; canned Iranian stew; Bulgarian pickles; Israeli jams; English marmalade; French cookies; Greek grape leaves; Moroccan couscous; Japanese noodles; Indian rice; Canadian herring; Spanish olive oils; Egyptian beans; Cypriot cheese; Chinese hoi-sin sauce; Brazilian palm hearts; Danish condensed milk; Mexican pickled pork skins; and Swiss chocolate. You'll also find a huge inventory of spices.

The wine, beer and liquor department is almost as impressive. Check out the international and microbrewed suds; the wines from Europe, Australia, California and South America; and the usual hard spirits. The prices are competitive, too.

The store also stocks durable goods, like Middle Eastern coffee carafes, wicker baskets and sets of drinking glasses.

If you're thinking about putting together some holiday gift baskets, World Market Place has what it takes. It's open seven days a week, too. Call 931-8000.

Over in central Phoenix, at the southeast corner of 16th Street and Indian School Road, sits Old World Foods, a new Phoenix outlet of a Tucson operation.

By "Old World," the proprietors really mean Eastern Europe in general, and Russia in particular. The products here almost all come from the countries between the Oder River on the west, and the Ural Mountains on the east, including many of the old Soviet Union's breakaway republics.

The small shop lines its shelves and refrigerated case with Estonian herring, Moldovan squash paste, Polish pickles, Bulgarian feta cheese, Azerbaijani jam and Ukrainian sliced eggplant.

There are also plenty of items imported directly from the home country, with no English labeling. If you can't figure out what an item is, the young woman behind the counter will try to help you, in halting English. If her explanation fails, she'll get out her Russian-English dictionary and dig up a translation.

--Howard Seftel

Suggestions? Write me at hseftel@newtimes.com or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,

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