Saturday, April 2, 2011

Learning to buy groceries

Our big project for the day is purchasing groceries to last the weekend. We've learned that there is a market in town on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are some shops in the centre ville, including a good bakery and butcher. These shops can have a tendency to not follow their scheduled open hours, but they are very near. They also close for lunch and open again around 4:30 for a few hours. To be checked out for sure. There is a large grocery store that carries a lot of other goods as well a short drive away at the end of town. So that's where we headed.

It took us several hours as we had to read all the labels, find the right aisles and make choices between many options for most products. But we managed to stock up and learn lots of the names for foods in the process. We've also got a French beer to try and another bottle of the local wine. We bought chicken and porc and I'll try out the gas "cooker" (British English for stove) to start to get a feel for the way it works. There's an oven too, so I might have to start collecting recipes to try. In general sizes of things are smaller for canned goods, the variety of meats is wider including veal, duck, and rabbit, as well as chicken, pork, beef and turkey. Meat is quite expensive in general, but with the choices of fresh fruits and vegetables, that's not too hard to imagine eating less meat and more fruits and veggies. But overall, I'd say the cost of groceries is not far off from what we pay in the States. I expect we will shop more frequently to eat fresher foods. It is easy to eat bread, cheese and sausages with some fruit for a quick meal, so pizza isn't necessary as a quick meal here. And no cooking involved.

You bring your own bags (you can purchase large reusable plasticized totes if you don't have any - we bought two and that was enough for all our shopping). And you pack your own groceries (which I like a lot). Also, you put a coin into the rack of carts outside the store and it unlocks one from the queue of carts. When you return the cart after shopping, you put the key from the handle of the locked cart behind into yours and your money is returned. What a clever way to make people put their carts away (and not steal them). Maybe I'll try to take some photos so you can see how it works.

Just finished a late lunch. We had a discussion with Jean-Yves and Marie-Christine about eating Spanish versus French produce. Spain allows genetic engineering and France does not. Origin of the produce is always labeled in the supermarket - another cool thing. I think that we were advised to avoid Spanish produce and Dave thinks we were advised to prefer the Spanish produce. Well, we've asked for clarification from Jean-Yves and Marie-Christine, but in the meantime, we bought Spanish strawberries (1, 29 Euro) and French strawberries (3,00 Euros) and did a taste test. The Spanish strawberries were much larger and redder, but tasteless. The French strawberries were smaller and flavorful. I've noticed that the location of production is noted even on the grocery slip.

Next up, a walk around town. Later

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