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On the Road: Grocery Shopping

October 8th, 2006 at 03:57 pm

When I travel, it seems likes itís the little differences that stick with me the most. The very first time I traveled, I felt almost dizzy with the little differences, now, a couple countries later, I can enjoy them.

Grocery shopping is a fun way of seeing a culture. From where the stores are and how many staff there are and what the hours are, to what is on the shelves. In Croatia and Bosnia, I only saw one store Iíd consider a large grocery store. Part of that is Iím sure due to being in the quaint old town areas, as opposed to the suburban areas that likely do have large stores.

Bread is usually better, and often is behind a counter. Surprisingly, Croatian bread seemed pretty mediocre, but the Bosnian stuff was good. The bread being behind the counter can be intimidating. The fruit, too, is intimidating: you have to use a little machine to weigh it and print a label. Ands you donít just put in the price per kilogramÖ.it spits out labels with the name of the fruit. I managed a couple times by saying "PleaseĒ in Bosna/Croat and holding the bag out to another customer. Once there seemed to be a staffer at the scale. It does make me realize how scary it must be to not know the language where you live. Imagine passing up fruit every day because you didnít know how to get it correctly.

I got plenty of yogurt that was plain, which is not so usual for the States. It seemed most was unflavored, while in the U.S. most is flavored. Iím not sure what the fat content was, or whether there were live cultures. Some was really runny and some was thick. It was all pretty good.

You can buy little pats of butter; that seemed odd to me. Perhaps one or two tablespoons worth. Many things seemed to be in smaller containers. I think that perhaps there is more of a culture of shopping daily or weekly, and not so much on stocking up. I never saw a laundry detergent that was anywhere near the size I usually grab.

Peanut butter is expensiveÖ.Nutella is cheap. What a world. Fruit syrup is by the fruit juice. This is think stuff that I would mix with club soda. Iím not sure whether it is intended to be mixed with tap water or not. The price is very low, especially compared to prices for fancy Torani syrups and the like. I missed out buying one because I was worried about the weight of my bag, what a shame.

Iíd love to be able to bring a bunch of grocery items home. Some I probably couldnít due to Customs; mostly it would just be a weight and packing issue. The soda is so much better outside the States, in my opinion. It is less sweet, more adult tasting. Since I donít drink alcohol, I appreciate beverages that are interesting and not just sugar water. Even the Fanta is different; it may be the same name, but there is more of a tang. Bitter Lemmon was often available; it seemed to be a combo of perhaps a less sweet Collins mix and tonic water. I could see children here spitting it out, but I thought it was fabulous. Something I could sip, like an aperitif.

3 Responses to “On the Road: Grocery Shopping”

  1. Kisha Says:

    (Hi, I'm a lurker, nice to meet you.)

    I will agree with you about the soda in Europe.. it does taste different. My husband is Swedish. Soda is sweetened with corn syrup in the US, and cane sugar there, so it tastes more.. natural and less cloyingly sweet. I think the water it's made with also makes a big difference.. we once bought one bottled in a (now forgotten) other small country, and it was basically undrinkable. One of the things that he misses the most about living in Sweden is the Coke, but he never bothers buying it here because he doesn't think it's worth drinking. He would also point out that he was raised to think of pop as candy--something to splurge on now and then but not to drink with a meal. (He has so, so gotten over that because he certainly does not treat it as such now.. ha!)

    Anyway, glad that you had a nice vacation! Sounds lovely!

  2. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Oh, this is just so interesting. I'm haning on your every word. There has gotten to be a large Bosnian population in the neighborhood next door to me, so there are lots of imports in the groceries here. New things to try! Also, Bosnian bread is available at the cheaper grocery. And there are getting to be small Bosnian bakeries, restaurants, and butcher shops. I am amused to find that the Bosnian people remind me of people from my own birthplace in the southern US! It seems so unlikely! Going to the grocery store, I look around and feel like I'm back among my homefolks.

  3. LuxLiving Says:

    I always visit the groceries when traveling. Often times the best part of the trip. And on the weight issue... We'll often pack the clothes we are tired of and leave it behind at the end of the trip and bring back 'the goods' instead. Of course this works better if you are staying in one place for a week or two as it would seem odd to be leaving your old 'funders' in a trail behind you as you cross Europe!

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