Business: Fat Times for Fancy Foods

Gourmets galore are eager to tickle their taste buds

It must take more than a recession to dampen demand for English rhubarb and fig preserves or reindeer meatballs from Norway. Though inflation has forced supermarket shoppers to cut corners and frantically clip coupons, gourmet food shops that cater to the sophisticated palate have never been busier.

Boston's venerable Malben's, which stocks more than 5,000 items, including 70 or so different cheeses and eight brands of fresh coffee beans, reports annual sales gains of 15% to 20% with no signs of a slowdown. In New...

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