You know those pictures that look like a random bunch of colours but when you stare at them for a while a picture emerges? That’s how I’m starting to feel about the grocery store.
The school takes us to a mall at least 4 times a week. Partly I think because it’s Ramadan and I’m not sure there’s anything else to do at night and partly because we need things to get us settled. Our ‘fully furnished’ house has some rather large gaps. It’s ok, they’ve given us money for this, but it takes time.
We’ve shopped for household goods, and cell phones and cars and stopped for a Starbucks and looked at the clothes (and wondered who wears the clothes that are displayed on the models because they are certainly scandalous!) and generally got the lay of the land in these enourmous malls. There are 3 that they seem to focus on. Maybe there’s only 3 I don’t know. Then we’ve left the last 45 minutes or so to grab a few groceries, because who wants to carry their groceries around the mall.
This has likely been a huge mistake. At the end of a couple of hours in the mall (I find them exhausting don’t you?) I then have to make decision…quickly…when the labels are in a different language and the food is different. Of course there are lots of foods that are the same but what’s the difference between a cucumber from Holland and a Saudi cucumber? Well, if you stop to pull out your iphone (there’s an app for this) and convert the money, a cucumber from Holland (that looks just like our English cucumbers) is about $10 and a box of Saudi cucumbers (that look like small english cucumbers) is about $4. Quite the difference! If that in fact is what is meant by the signs (it is by the way)…but $10 for a cucumber? That can’t be right…is it? Maybe it’s $10/kilo and it’s weighed…no. Ok – so, now you know how long it takes to process one thing. Happy Grocery Time! They weigh the produce in the produce department and put a price on it, rather than at the cash register. This makes things efficient, but it’s great to know that when you’re already in line. (Thanks for rescuing that one Jeff and Kathy).
I torture myself over groceries as it is…buy local…ok buy local when possible…ok, if it’s not local how about close? Buy organic, whole grains, no added sugar, no extra plastic containers…blah blah blah. That’s in my normal grocery store! Obviously that had to go out the window if we were even going to leave with SOME food.
You’ll see them in the picture below – who wants to buy spices in a jar when there are exotic ones in barrels? How do you get those? How much are they? Is there any point in buying them if I don’t know what they are and won’t know how to use them? I bought a basil plant. Why do I have to figure this all out tonight???? (My mind is a scarey place)
And where do you start? We need everything from coffee, tea, and ketchup to salt and pepper and flour, (I found out that pancake mix will thicken a cream sauce just fine! I feel like I’m camping).
I gave myself 45 minutes for this?
I think it took about 5 trips to the grocery store before I relaxed enough, and allotted enough time to start to shop meaningfully. Now I’m starting to enjoy it. I’m going to pick a spice and find a recipe and the next time I’m there, I’m going to buy it and the other ingredients for it. I’ve also cut myself a lot of slack but in general things are making more sense. I also haven’t braved the fish counter yet. But I will. In due time.
It’s the beginning of Eid now, I guess a new moon was sighted. So tomorrow is a holiday, and if I understand correctly the end of Ramadan. So the stores will all be closed and there will be lots of feasting (special foods have been in the grocery store all week), family, even presents (like Christmas…but without the birth of Jesus so I guess not exactly).
Tonight we’ll go BACK to the mall and buy things to hunker down for the next few days as we enjoy a 5 day holiday.
Grocery store pics. For my foodie friends, there’ll be a quiz. What’s with the eggplant?