Grocery Shopping in L.A.

Grocery shopping in L.A. is different than grocery shopping in other cities. Because we have a lot of celebrities, and celebrities have to eat too.

“The Beibs” picking up some sugary cereal.

I saw a photo recently of Katie Holmes ducking into a Whole Foods in Manhattan, chased by a phalanx of either paparazzi or Scientology thugs. I guess New York may be the only other place where you’re likely to bump into a celebrity while buying groceries. Certain cities have one or two celebrities — you might bump into John Waters while grocery shopping in Baltimore, for example, or run into Robert Goulet at the Safeway in Las Vegas.

It would be annoying to have paparazzi taking photos of you while you shopped. People scanning National Enquirer while doing their own shopping would then know what kind of things you ate. And if you happened to be snapped picking up a box of Fruit Loops, for example — just to get to the whole grain granola behind it, mind you — people would then judge you: “Oh, look at the kinds of things he or she serves their children for breakfast!”

The sort of celebrity you see shopping depends on where you are shopping. Once, at a gritty neighborhood vegan grocery in Venice, I was almost run over by Perry Farrell on his skateboard. A different experience, say, than shopping at the Whole Foods in Santa Monica, where you might see Maria Shriver talking with the fishmonger and Dennis Quaid browsing the cheese counter.

The most common place I see celebrities shopping is at the Wednesday farmer’s market in Santa Monica. Sure, there are celebrity chefs galore — Wolfgang Puck and Susan Feniger are regulars, and I’ve seen the likes of Mario Batali and Thomas Keller and even the great Paul Prudhomme. But you can’t go to the market without practically tripping over Jennifer Garner. Celebrities such as Jen like to bring their children there to show them what the raw components of the dinners they’ve had at Spago or Matsuhisa look like. Or maybe I’m not giving her enough credit and she actually cooks for their children. I once had a lovely interaction with a very funny and gracious Hillary Swank over a pile of heirloom beets. My favorite celebrity I ever saw at the Santa Monica farmer’s market was Bill Murray — who was wearing a funny hat and making no effort whatsoever not to be Bill Murray.

When I was in my 20s, I used to play a fun game called “Cut Off the Celebrity.” Whenever I would see a celebrity driving — which was every day or two — I would attempt to pull in front of them and then go really slowly, just to see how they would react. I try, as a general rule, to avoid anyone who has ever been in a Quentin Tarantino movie. But I once cut off Harvey Keitel in his Porsche, and he gave me a mean Reservoir Dogs stare when he finally got around me. (In another Reservoir Dogs-related sighting, I was at Dodger Stadium with a friend and noticed a guy sitting in the next row who looked like Tim Roth [aka “Mr. Orange”]. “Hey,” I said to my friend, “That guy looks like Tim Roth.” Hearing his name, Tim Roth looked over his shoulder, smiled mid-hot dog and gave me a little wave.) Another time I cut off Glenn Frey in his Porsche, but he had that peaceful, easy look and didn’t even notice. The most out-of-control celebrity I ever cut off was Nicholas Cage, driving a Ferrari (if you were a celebrity and didn’t want to be noticed, you certainly wouldn’t drive a Ferrari). I made him miss the traffic light (which I made), and could see him going ballistic and banging the dashboard in my rear view mirror.

Jennifer Garner LOVES to grocery shop

But back to grocery shopping.

Today, coming home from the supermarket on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, I noticed a Harley Davidson in the lane next to me with a pretty girl on the back. I glanced at the driver, he looked back at me, and even though I could only see his eyes from inside his helmet, I recognized them as the very ones I’d seen peering into many a man’s soul in “Hotel Rwanda” — Don Cheadle!

I’m older now, I like to think I’m better than cutting off a celebrity just for the sport of it. But he was going kind of slow, so I got in front of him to prepare for my right-hand turn onto Topanga Canyon. I turned, and so did he. And I imagined it was a scene from some thriller, and Don Cheadle was giving chase. He was going much slower than I, just a blip in my rear view mirror, but I was certain there was some method to his pursuit — like he knew that riding my tail would be just what I was expecting.

After five or six minutes winding up the canyon and into the leisurely pace of traffic in town, he had caught up to me. I turned off on my street and Cheadle kept going straight. The end of another thrilling day grocery shopping in L.A.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Monica Schneider
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 08:00:33

    You are just too funny! You should throw a few choice items in their super-market carts!


  2. Benjamin Thompson
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 14:12:56

    I was in Whole Foods last year and I noticed one line was much shorter than all the others. So I decided to head for that register. A few feet away there were several WF employees blocking the line because Vince Vaughn was checking out. Really? Really? And it took him about a year to purchase his 10 items because he was talking to all the cashiers, baggers and jabbering on his cell. (Otherwise, I hear he’s actually really nice.) I think WF can trust the Lincoln Park crowd to not lose their shit just because Vince Vaughn is buying some organic produce.


  3. g
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 19:57:46

    My favorite celebrity shopping encounter was seeing Angelyne at the Hughes in Pacific Palisades (it was Hughes before it was Ralphs).

    But that Ralphs in Malibu is definitely a place to star-spot. I developed a rather unholy obsession with Britney Spears back when she lived in Ramirez Canyon and she and K-Fed used to be photographed there stocking up on beer and cheetos.


    • scolgin
      Jul 25, 2012 @ 20:07:32

      Those two practically supported Budweiser and the Cheetos Co. for a few years there. Haven’t seen Angelyn lately — where’s she been? I used to spot her at least once a week driving around somewhere in that pink Corvette.


  4. Mom
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 00:10:38

    This one could be entitled ‘why Mom left LA’.


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