One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new country is to explore a grocery store. I love to wander the aisles and ponder the items on display. What does one do with agar-agar or dried baby shrimp? Why are there so many types of tinned fish in Lisbon or for that matter why do Jordanians need so many types of canned corn or canned mushrooms? What exactly is Tasty Cheese?
I will marvel at delicious looking cheeses and fruits that never seems to grace America’s grocery aisles.
One of our family’s favorite things to find in new countries is a new flavor of potato chip....Spicy Lobser anyone?
My daughter has even gotten the bug and will lead the detour to a food market just to check things out with me.
However, it is with deep dread that I contemplate restocking my pantry in a new country. Each time we land in a new home we are faced with bare cupboard and only the handful of items that our sponsor has left to tide us over, tea and coffee, some apples, yogurt and bread.
If it was only about making a massive trip to the local supermarket it would be painful enough, but not awful. The problem is not the inability to find what you shopped for in America, it the inability to find what was at the last Post. Daily food sourcing becomes a guessing game. Can I find parmesan cheese? Are there any canned tomatoes? Will we like this cereal? What flavor do you think this yogurt is?
Living somewhere for even a few months let alone years means you have established your favorites of things like ice cream and frozen pizza, now we have to discover it all again.
And we need to feed ourselves in the meantime. Cooking is another adventure because of course you forgot the one ingredient that is necessary for a dish when you wandered the aisles of the store and who knows how easy it will be to find when you venture back out there.
So while there have been some happy surprises, Spicy Lobster Chips and readily available Vegimite, (don’t judge) I am left longing for fresh pita and dates. Not to mention Dr. Oetkers frozen pizza.