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Upscale 'supers' tout lily root gooseberries and fancy price tags

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Gourmet supermarkets are springing up like chanterelle mushrooms after a rain. They amount to enormous food boutiques, pampering customers with Tiffany stained-glass windows over the checkout counters, salad bars, black-tie premieres, and skylights. They offer fresh New Zealand strawberries, French butter from Normandy, rattlesnake filets, Norwegian salmon, $15-a-pound cheeses, buffalo steaks, and French bread (baked on the premises). Camelburgers, anyone? That, too, at $11.99 a pound, frozen.

''I can't contain myself!'' says Louise Lonski of Adelphi Park, Md., as she paws happily through the fresh produce at the new Giant gourmet supermarket in Rockville. Mrs. Lonski decides to go for the chanterelles, golden mushrooms that look appropriately gilded, at $14.99 a pound.

She was searching for celery root for one of the French, German, or Indonesian dishes she loves to prepare, but they were temporarily out of it. On the other hand, she could browse through a garden of gourmet delights: white radishes looking like long, ivory mouse tails; haricots verts or French green beans; lily root gooseberries; fresh herbs; and those ruby New Zealand strawberries, $4.99 a pint.

''Cooking is a hobby of mine. . . . I'm going over there to the meat section to get some buffalo meat for next week,'' says Martha Bennett of Clarksville, Md. She's just stopped off at the supermarket's salad bar on her way back to work.

''They have fresh game, fresh baked goods made right here, a fresh pasta section, fresh seafood. We've already tried the squid, and we're going to try the rattlesnake,'' Mrs. Bennett says. The store also offers standard supermarket items, plus a flower shop, pharmacy, pasta shop, savings and loan branch, and reading center.


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