One of my favourite things to do in any new country is get into a supermarket and check out the local products. It’s one of the best ways of introducing yourself to an important part of the culture. Some of my favourite supermarkets are in South Korea, surrounded by sales pitches bellowing from Korean men and women inside and outside the supermarket, the rows of scary looking squid in all variations, and the pyramid stacks of crispy seaweed sheets. To top it off there are tasting samples on offer by friendly women at the end of almost every aisle, daring you to chug back that curious little cup of pale liquid or that skewer of fleshy substance covered in a bright red sauce that is sure to burn your taste buds off.
I also enjoyed the supermarkets in Budapest, not so much because of the quirky products but because of the interesting layout and restrictions.
Supermarkets in Dubai were another experience entirely. Huge and sprawling centres with so many things to look at! The abundance of products was a little bit intimidating. I felt panicked that I wouldn't be able to look at every single thing and perhaps miss out on snapping up something amazing.
The supermarkets in Germany are great too and there are so many varieties of supermarkets alone. There is an entire supermarket dedicated to Bio products and if you are wealthy enough you could do your weekly shop here.
Some of my favourite discoveries so far have been:
· Rot kohl in a jar! Rot kohl is the delicious German shredded red cabbage prepared with red wine, apple juice, bacon bits and other things. It is usually served in winter along with a hearty meat dish in restaurants. Buying it in a jar is perfectly convenient and easy to prepare - just chuck it in a pan and heat it up and you’re good to go.
· The incredible variety of juices and water on offer. I’ve never seen so many variations of sparkling water.
· The gherkins and asparagus. The German love of cucumbers, gherkins and asparagus is no more apparent than on the supermarket shelves. Yes gherkins and asparagus can be purchased in supermarkets worldwide but Germany has an amazing selection. Sliced gherkins, big, small, medium sized and different pickling styles. Asparagus in jars and cans all sizes all variations. A jar of these babies should be found in any respectable German household. Case in point, the image below - found in the canned foods drawer of my boyfriend's parents.
· The hard liquor available in aisles right next to crisps and pretzels. In New Zealand there is beer and wine in supermarkets but for anything else you have to make a special trip to a liquor store.
· The bakeries inside every supermarket with their amazing selection of cakes and slices. Every supermarket seems to have an affiliate bakery chain.
· Ritter Sport chocolate. Perfectly sized little blocks of German made chocolate small enough not to induce guilt ridden diet for the rest of the week if you consume an entire one to yourself. Plus, a steal at 80cents. (In fact all the chocolate in Germany is awesome)
And some of the products that I don’t actively participate in buying but somehow end up in our cupboards:
· Sausages in a jar or can. Perfectly convenient snacks which I am supposed to enjoy with bread and mustard. If I could only get past the creepy presentation of long sausages languidly floating in pale liquid...
· Black bread. When they say black they’re not joking. It can hardly be described as bread it is so dense and full of grains. One slice is a meal in itself. I have to admit I haven’t been converted yet.
· The strange shredded, chunky, processed meat products. The sheer abundance of these curious looking forms of congealed meat intended for breakfast consumption is a little frightening.
· A sliced chocolate intended for toast. Similar to the Dutch product ‘Hagelslag’
· Bread rolls in a can. We purchased some of these on the weekend. Check out the photos below.
And still, still one of my favourite things about shopping in Germany is arriving at the checkout and hearing the beautifully low sum announced from the checkout operator. The price of food here is incredible. Gets me every time.