I don’t have a lot of experience with this, yet, but I’m enjoying the many differences I’m seeing in the kinds of foods available at the local groceries. Since I’m limited to walking to stores — for now — shopping must be focused and not too heavy. (Because I’m a bit of a wimp.)
On our first day here, we stepped out to a local Co-operative. Apparently this company is taking over the world, one form of commercial enterprise at a time. You can shop, travel, find household goods, purchase a car, and even die (will-writing and funeral arrangements) under the Co-operative umbrella. The one near is us small and I have a feeling the prices are exorbitant. I also don’t think anyone should ever ever offer for sale ‘half price cooked shrimp salad’. Blurg. But we found some snacks to tide us over. Crumpets are my favorite for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (of course) but the kids think the “Friji” shakes and chocolates are “brilliant, mummy” (said with an assumed accent).
So we were making do with random snacks from the Co-op shop and eating out, and then the Continental Market arrived down the street. For a few days, vendors offer fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, cheeses, olives, paella, thai curries, dried and candied fruits, fresh made crepes, and other market items to the pedestrians strolling the Promenade. I was thrilled with my share of the bounty — I went out for crepes and came back with red curry, a baguette and a baguette dijonnais, a fresh and an aged goat cheese, and two types of beautiful plums. I don’t know if my kids realized how fabulous their after-school snack was that day.
Today I can be proud of myself for doing some real shopping at the local Sainsbury. I think Sainsbury is something like a Safeway or Giant, but the larger stores also offer electronics and large household goods and other items I wouldn’t expect to see at my local American grocery. (Including the wine and beer that I wish we would see at our regular American groceries.) It was mouth-watering to see all the Indian-style foods offered in the prepared foods section, including a fairly wide variety of one-pot meals. And I think I found three separate aisles, in different parts of the store, each devoted to puddings/dessert/cookies/sweets. I wandered in a bit of a daze — what in the world is “Gu”? I don’t know, but I’m eating it later — but the kids will be happy with their ridiculous jelly treats and I’m sure the British Cheddar will make a marvelous homemade macaroni and cheese.
Oh, and the British grocery self-checkout lanes? They hate me, just as much as the American ones. I needed assistance three times to ring out. My big downfall was the bananas, which are rung up not by weight but by number — wonder why? — but the staff person who helped me only looked like she wanted to hit me over the head with the bananas — she didn’t actually do it. So, success!