Friday, March 9, 2012

Scavenger Hunt

Every Sunday, we venture out to buy our groceries for the week. I have taken to calling these trips our grocery scavenger hunts because you never quite know where you are going to find certain items. One day, the store may carry it and the next weekend, it is no where to be found. And I may have had to visit two different international grocery stores before finding ricotta cheese this week.

In order to find the food that we want, we shop at a number of different stores. We generally start off at the Chinese grocery stores. We have one around the corner from us and we also visit Carrefour, which is about 10 minutes away. Technically, Carrefour is a French company but the store stocks mostly Chinese products with a small international section. This is where we buy water, soy sauce, fresh noodles, flour, sugar, etc. We sometimes buy produce here but I prefer the selection at the vegetable markets.

Produce section. Can you spot the fish tank?

 This is the Carrefour dried meat section. That big stack of red is dried sausages.

After the Chinese grocery, we usually stop at the vegetable market for our produce. It's similar in feel to a farmer's market. We found a stall that we like where the woman is patient with our limited Chinese and always throws some extra herbs, garlic, and hot peppers into our bag.

Our final stops are usually at the international grocery stores. We have a small one called City Shop located in the basement of our building. We usually pick up our meat here as well as hard to find items like cheese, spaghetti sauce, and spices. There is also a larger store a few blocks away called Ole. Ole has similar products to City Shop but is much larger and therefore usually carries more items. The prices are similar between the two stores so we often visit the one we happen to be near.

You can see that Ole looks a lot like grocery stores in the US, except that all of the seafood is still swimming in tanks. This took me by surprise initially, but at least you know the food is fresh!

There are many other places to shop around the city as well, but these are the places we tend to frequent. Apparently there is a Walmart as well as a place called Metro which allows you to buy in bulk like Costco. There are also numerous street vendors and markets along the road. For example, there is a fish seller near our apartment.

While certainly different than grocery shopping back home, we have managed to find most the ingredients we want thus far. And unless we are buying expensive Western ingredients like cheese, our grocery bills are usually quite small! Now I just need to get more adventurous with my cooking!


  1. I always thought Chinese restaurants looked like pet shops because the fish were all in tanks at the front of the shop. Sometimes, they even let us catch our own fish out of the tank! Definitely makes for a more interesting eating experience.

  2. So the fish tanks have live fish, and then you pick out the one you want (sort of like when you buy fresh lobster over here)? Do they then kill the fish for you? Because if not, I can see Kristin becoming attached to the fish and turning the bathtub into a giant tank....

    1. Yes, they kill it for you. Generally, just by chopping off it's head =)

    2. And don't tell Dad, but those are turtles for sale in the green and red bags...


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