What’s for dinner?
October 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
It’s no secret that food is a great way to learn about a new place. I think for most people, a trip to a new country isn’t complete without a visit to some kind of market or grocery store. It’s a great window into how that culture cooks and eats and what they value. (Given this, I’m more than a little curious about who came up with the idea for the recently spotted “New York Hotdog” flavor potato chips??)
We are in an extended version of that exploration. There is a wonderful Sunday market in our own commune. We buy a lot of our produce there, and it also has great cheese and meat stands (and socks and underwear). And of course there are speciality shops as well as a large gourmet store called Rob, which is like a Dean & Deluca for any New Yorkers who might be reading. But for regular grocery shopping, we typically head to Carrefour. It’s not fancy, but it’s good for most basics (still looking for chocolate chips and Israeli couscous, however).
There are the obvious differences from most stores in the U.S., like having to insert a coin to unlock a cart, the need to weigh your produce yourself before you get to the checkout, and the ubiquitous bread slicer. But looking through the photos I took gave me a fuller appreciation for some of the nuances of shopping here. For one, I was struck by all of the packaged and junk food in the pictures, which for the most part I usually just tune out. I think there is an assumption among many Americans—land of the Twinkie and premade, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—that food in Europe is somehow more wholesome, or at least less processed. That is a big part of the food culture here, to be sure, but so is aisle after aisle of potato chips, cookies, and candy bars. And yet there are still entire refrigerated cases devoted to venison and boudin noir. I don’t remember seeing that in many Safeways.