It might be weird for most people, but I get excited every time I go grocery shopping during my travels abroad.
It seems like a very mundane thing to do, but the grocery store is among the best ways to understand a certain country, culture and people. Food is an important aspect of culture, which you can easily witness in their local grocery store.
A trip to the supermarket is always a potential language lesson. One trip to Auchan got me twenty words richer in French–pommes, framboise, fraise, oeuf, fromage, aubergines, pain, beurre… you’re learning without even trying! I know I like my lait de soja, and my pain sans gluten. Definitely more fun than learning from an audio book.
There are plenty of food items that are staple items in the Philippines that I will rarely find in Europe, and if I do, with ridiculous price tags–Asian instant noodles, coconuts, pineapples, mangoes, dried fish, fish paste and white rice in 20-kg sacks.
I am also amazed at the inexhaustible kinds of cheese, milk, cream and yogurt you could have in European grocery stores! Moreover, you will see fruits or vegetables thrice as huge as Asian counterparts, such as their squash and eggplant. And then, there are also food items that you will never pick up–I mean, I love durian, but I can never fathom on how other people will ever love licorice. Yick.
When abroad, I normally pick up the basics:
- Fresh Milk – the fresh milk bottled in glass. In Philippines we never have these–only UHT milk or powdered milk!
- Greek Yogurt – the yogurt selections we have in our country is not real yogurt, and the authentic ones are ridiculously expensive!
- Chocolate – I need my sugars to survive the day and always pack chocolate or granola bar in my bag to avoid my ever-constant hypoglycemia.
- Bread and butter – Because I’m always too lazy to cook up something in the morning.
- Salad – I love my greens and snack on them when I can.
- Dry shampoo and cocoa butter – these are hygiene products that I love but are rare and overpriced in the Philippines, so I hoard them when I can.
As you can see, I’m not a huge carnivore, but a big dairy lover. I never make it to the meat section, but occasionally do get eggs if I’m not lazy to whip up something!
So there you go. Treat your grocery shopping as a mini-educational tour. What are grocery items that you pick up when traveling?