Are you one of those people who hates grocery shopping?
Back in my frantic days of attempting and failing at the whole work/life balance thing, shopping was right up there as a major stressor and something I almost resented.
But now my life has slowed down to the point where I find wonder and enjoyment in hitting the supermarkets in foreign lands. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but now that we’re no longer working we get our kicks grocery shopping. And most likely we’re annoying the crap out of those busy working people who hate shopping.
During our 2 months house sit in Mohon, our preferred supermarket was the SuperU at Ploermel, a bit further to drive but worth it because of the huge variety, like a hypermarket. Actually one of the main reasons we shopped at SuperU was because we didn’t have to find a Euro coin to pay for the trolley.
The trolleys have a retractable bracket that holds the 6-packs of 1 litre bottles of water. Do they have this in Australia? I don’t know why they buy so much bottled water, their tap water is perfectly fine to drink.
Oh, the things you can buy in a French supermarket!
Frozen and fresh ready-made meals take on a new meaning.
Typically European, there was an entire area dedicated to long life milk and just a tiny refrigerated section for some fresh milk. And we had to be really careful to not be tricked into buying butter milk. Just because the label says “lait” doesn’t mean it is plain old milk. You’ll remember I talked about that fiasco here.
Have I mentioned the pastries? Sweet dreams are made of these delights. Sorry to harp on about this but just take a look at the prices! Given that the Aussie dollar is worth about 2/3 the Euro, these little babies are too affordable for this sweet tooth.
On our first supermarket visit we had forgotten about the way they do veggie weighing here in Europe. So we turned up at the checkout with our bags of beans, carrots & potatoes and felt just a bit embarrassed when the operator got up from her seat with our bags of veges and left us wondering what was going on. Aha, that’s right, we forgot that we have to weigh and tag our stuff on the machine in the fruit & veg section before we get to the checkout. They don’t have it set up at the checkout like we’re used to. It’s just the same as when you do the self-checkout thing.
Anyway we only forgot a couple of times after that but mostly we were pretty good at it. The fun part was figuring out the translation (lucky for pictures). For example, did you know that the translation of vegetables in French is legumes? Apples are pomme and potatoes are pomme de terre.
The seafood in the supermarkets is superbly fresh and delicious, though expensive. It was always a popular section, with people lining up patiently while the assistant spoke to each customer about their choices, then bagged up their purchases and brought them around the counter to hand to the customer, wishing them bon appetite. Incredible.
Bretagne butter is something that I’ll never ever forget. I can’t tell you how divine it is. I think we were getting through a 375gram pack of that red Paysan Breton butter every week. There is a variety with actual sea salt flakes. Just think about that for a moment…… I know some of these brands are available outside of France and I will be sourcing them from now on. No more “home brand” butter for us.
There is an ever so small nod to the Brits living among the Bretons. Honestly though, with the marvelous French food on offer, there’s hardly anything you’d need from across the Channel. Except for tea. They don’t do tea in France.
So, finally I get to the wine. Good wine for not very much money. And here’s something we learnt from a visit to a France winery years ago. They put the good bottled stuff into cardboard casks! So there’s not that social stigma attached to buying “bag in box” wine here as when buying Chateaux de Cardboard in Oz. Or if there is maybe we just didn’t notice…..
Shopping in Brittany supermarkets both entertains and confounds us. Sometimes we just wander aimlessly along a food aisle looking at the delights within, a heavenly vision to the eyes. We love it.