Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping with three kids anywhere has its challenges -- John filling the cart with 20 pounds of bacon; everyone moving in three different directions (or climbing on the cart like it's a jungle gym); and of course, buying all sorts of things you didn't come for. But my first grocery shopping trip with all three kids in Luxembourg was the mother of all grocery shopping trips!

I wanted to go to Cora (the Luxie Super Target), but couldn't remember what it was called to plug it into GPS, so I ended up going to Cactus, a large German chain about a mile from our house. Once we finally got through the giant revolving door (my kids love these things), and walked through the mall entry into the actual grocery store, I found out I had to go back out into the rain to get a cart. Then I realized all the carts were locked together. So since I didn't have any Euro change yet, and the tiny diagram on the cart handlebar indicated that a quarter would be just fine, I fished one out, stuck it in the slot and was horrified that it got stuck! But somehow our cart was released and we zipped back inside to begin again. (Little did I know that it was supposed to be stuck. It's only released when you return the cart. But I was truly mortified that I had broken it, imagining that it was because I had the audacity to shove an American coin in a foreign basket.)

Wow. I quickly realized everything really was labeled in German. So I just started putting things in my cart that looked familiar. Random sausages (meat unknown), strange butter (turned out to be something like lard), carrots with stems that were two-feet long, toilet paper (that was actually paper towels...extremely unfortunate), and some sort of white shredded cheese (which was actually a miniature ready-made lasagna).

The kids just about barfed when we got near the fresh cheese section. In their defense, it is a strong odor -- sort of an earthy mix of mold and dung that you can't possibly appreciate until you're an adult. I had to ask them not to scream and make retching sounds. We moved through that area pretty quickly.

Back in the States, I've learned to shop fast. It's supermarket sweep. I know which brands I like, and I swipe them off the shelves without even slowing the cart. I've rung up $400 in food in about 25 minutes at Trader Joe's. It practically took me 25 minutes just to pick out a German Windex and toilet bowl cleaner.

Shopping in French (or God forbid German!) is a whole different experience. Sometimes, it means identifying what a food item even is before you can begin deciding between the multiple brands, all while quietly converting Euros to dollars in your head. It's numbly standing in the meat aisle with Google Translator app open on my phone. It's moving at such high speeds through the fresh produce to keep John from eating every plum and carrot we pass, that I forgot to have everything weighed before I stood in line to pay. And it's searching, aisle by aisle (until you finally give up and begin charades with a store attendant) for those very few items that you just can't live without. For lots of Americans, it's probably peanut butter or Pop Tarts. Mine is Pam cooking spray. Ning carried 17 spray bottles across the ocean in a suitcase during her visit (more to come on that)...

All that, while keeping three kids busy (who, by the way, were perfect angels -- helpful and well-behaved the entire time)..... And you know what? We did great!

1 comment:

Johanna said...

I love all of this so much!!!