Monday, January 10, 2011

THE ADVENTURE OF GROCERY SHOPPING

Today I went grocery shopping.  This may seem like a mundane chore, but when you don't know which stores carry which merchandise, it's an adventure.

First I went to a combination grocery/variety store where my friend had taken me to buy my cell phone.  They have a remarkable variety of items, and here is part of my first haul:

First Groceries - Note the Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
There are several things of note here.  I was able to find multi-grain bread (but the Tuesday Gringo Market would have many more bread options, and all home-made).  There are some familiar U.S. items, such as my beloved Jif Extra Crunchy.  One brand of jam comes in squeezable plastic bags (far right of picture).  Sugar comes in beautiful one-pound paper-wrapped bags, similar to ours at home.  You can also buy panela, the brown raw sugar from sugar cane.  (Note that ground cinnamon is called canela, which is way too confusing.)

It was a thrill to find McVitie's Ginger Nuts, one of my favorite cookies from living in the U.K.  There are a lot of Brits here, so British groceries make their appearance on the grocers' shelves.

And of course there's the coffee, one of the reasons I moved here.  I've heard it said the coffee producers reserve the best for export, but it's hard to beat the taste of Balboa:

Cafe Balboa - Pure Heaven for $2.35/Pound
There are also some unusual products that I've never seen in the States, such as this lovely White-Blueberry Tea from China:

All the Tea in China
I'm drinking a cup of it now even as I write this, and it's delicious.

I tried to buy a bottle of my favorite wine, Concha y Toro (Shell and Bull) from Chile, which sells for about $4 a bottle here, only to be told at the cash register that I couldn't buy it.  I didn't understand the explanation but made a mental note to buy some at the other supermarket in town.

Next I went to Romero's, but they wouldn't sell wine either.  Turns out it was a national holiday to remember the martyrs who had been killed by American troups during the Noriega invasion.  I felt a twinge of guilt when I later learned this, that Panamanians had been killed by Americans.

The only disappointment in the shopping foray was the poor choice of dog food.  I bought Pedigree, a fairly good American brand, but the dogs turned up their noses at it.  Later I found some Purina Pro Plan, and the dogs are happy with it.  Now I just have to remember where I bought it.

Fresh organic veggies and organic free-range chicken are waiting for me at the Gringo Tuesday Market tomorrow.

-bjd



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