I have a thing with grocery stores – big ones, little ones, and most of all, European ones. They all seem to have a different, I don’t know, vibe to them? Hmm, it’s probably just less advertising, but every trip to a European supermarket for an American is an opportunity to both learn and be completely mind-boggled. Your cart? You put a €2 coin in to unlock it from the other carts, and then when you lock your cart back up, you get your coin back. Your bag? You always have to pay a few cents to get a plastic bag and you always have to bag your own groceries, often times resulting in post-cash register stress trying to cram all your groceries in your bag. Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for something interesting to do in Europe, just go to any supermarket; it’s bound to be interesting.
Anyway, after my year abroad in Paris, I can tell you that above all, I had learned my Carrefours from my Dias, my Monoprix from my Franprix, and my Leader Prices from my G-20s. This time in Portugal, I’m on a mission to know and understand the grocery stores of this fine land, and I’m honestly only partly kidding right now. Here in Lisbon, I’ve
done had the great pleasure of doing my grocery shopping at Pingo Doce, MiniPreço, Continente, and Celeiro and now, I will break down a few of my observations from the Portuguese supermarket.
For anyone reading, sesame seed butter is not anything close to peanut butter, and I assure you, it is not worth the €4 I talked myself into buying it for.
What’s more European than non-refrigerated milk? What I do love about this non-refrigerated milk is that it comes in the perfect 1L cartons which I have never seen in the States.Yogurt mayonese? Ok now that sounds good.My childhood…in Portuguese
When translations are not exactly spot on, but still cute anyway
Soy hamburgers on the shelf? See, now this is why people think vegetarian food is disgusting. On another positive note, seitan, a fake soy meat, can be found a whole lot easier here in Portugal than in the States.
Europeans love to do this: put the most random English words on their products.
Sorry, but jello will be disgusting no matter what language it’s in
Ok, so for my first ever Portuguese grocery store, I managed to find 85% of what I eat on a daily basis, for what I would typically pay back at my Trader Joes off 72nd Street in the Upper West Side, NYC. Impressive! France, take a hint, cuz I feel like I’m starving every time I’m in your country, which is a shame since I am obsessed with all your bread and cheese. As for my acute observations, I noticed that 8 cheese slices only cost €1, Danio yogurt is the creamiest yogurt I have ever tasted, the protein bar I bought tasted like chalk, prokorn bread reminded me of Germany and I’m not even sure if you can buy bread that dark and grainy in the States, and I totally forgot how much I miss muesli.
Now tell me, what do you love/hate about European supermarkets?