Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why Shopping Makes Me Sleepy

Yesterday was my shopping day.  We haven't figured out how to do this shopping thing without dragging the whole family with us.  Which probably needs to change.  But I have to keep reminding myself that we have only been here for two and half weeks, and we are still learning how to do life here.

Anyway, so shopping.  We've figure out that fruits and veggies are cheaper and better at the local Feria (market).  Like yesterday, I got pineapples for about 80 cents.  80 cents! Apples however, are much more, like $2.50 a kilo, which works out to be 2.2 pounds.  Yeah, we are learning to eat more pineapples and mangoes and papayas.  And that trip I can manage myself.  It's on one of the routes we take to school, it's a little under half a mile one way, I can walk, I can walk home, and I can interact with the vendors with confidence.

Then there are the stores.  Oh the stores.  I am sure immigrants in the US feel totally overwhelmed by places like Meijer or Target or oh my goodness a mall!  We're figuring things out, but man it takes forever to get stuff and then because we don't have a car, that sometimes limits what we can get. 

And then there is the packaging.  A lot of the things are the same.  For example

Or this
Yeah, can you believe I found this?  It was the only flavor available, but I am totally fine with that! And it was about the same price as at home.  Anyway, this is obviously easy to recognize. 

But then there are other things that come in bags.  Lots of things come in bags here that we would never even think of in the US.  Like say, bleach...

Or sour creamish sort of stuff called natilla

Or my favorite, which I didn't get a picture of, Milk.  Yep, you can get milk in several different containers.  Bags, boxes (I saw someone buy a case of boxed milk yesterday.  Off a shelf.  In the unrefrigerated section.) And we have even found it in the familiar plastic gallon jug.

And really, this makes some amount of sense.  You buy a bottle of something first, like say bleach or whatever, and then from there on out you can buy the bagged stuff.  Cuts down on the price and the waste.  But Milk in a box...I don't know.  You can even get milk boxes to pack in lunches, like a juice box.  It even says on the boxes, no need to refrigerate until after opening.  See, when things like electricity or the money for a refrigerator are in short supply this sort of thing makes sense.

Other bagged things,  mustard

And mayonnaise

Notice the handy little spout built in.  Oh, and I had to look long and hard for mayonnaise that didn't have lime flavor added.  Maybe at some point we will try it, but right now we are trying to stock the pantry with familiar things because we got enough going on that's different.

Which brings me to some thoughts on food and culture.  There is a place here called PriceMart.  And if you were to walk into PriceMart you would think you were in a Cosco or Sam's club.  I think I had culture shock the first time I went in there because it was so much like something in the States.  Anyway.  There is a lot of US products there, some stuff that we bought at home and some stuff we didn't.  We have been given different opinions about getting a membership.  Some people think you can't live without it, some people think you should live without it. 

I was very conflicted about this. See, we don't want to be this US island, where we try to recreate our lives in the States here.  We want to eat more locally (80 cent pineapples!) but at the same time, we aren't going to stop eating spaghetti and meatballs or hamburgers and home fries.  And honestly, ranch dip is good to get carrots down the kids. 

As I was talking to one of my world traveling friends last week, she said something that made a lot of sense. "Culture is embedded in food."  And she is right.  It's not just ugly Americans that eat only American food.  This is why there is Chinatown, and Little Italy and ethic food stores in the States.  No matter what culture you come from, you long for "your" food.  And you work to get "your food". 

So, we'll eat a lot more beans and rice, and pineapples and mangoes.  But we will also be happy to get flavored coffee creamer and Prego spaghetti sauce from PriceMart. 

So there you have it.  This is all why grocery shopping makes me need a nap.


  1. yay for creamer!! i remember a while back you were looking at little droplets that we're supposed to flavor your coffee.. :) praise God for unexpected little blessings. I'll keep Elliot in my prayers, poor little dude. If you have to head to the clinic, that'll be a lesson in communication, right? extra credit, maybe ? :)

  2. Wow. I remember shopping for food when we visited Peru and buying meat that had been hanging in the sun all day. I about died, but really when we ate it we didn't...just not something the FDA would recommend probably!
    I've seen milk in "juice boxes" here too...but I refuse to buy it for my kids. It seems...a little too processed for me. Plus I don't know about there but it is EXPENSIVE here!
    I'm so glad you guys are doing well.
    A former pastor of ours and his wife live in San Jose. His name is Floyd Elmore and her name is Pam. He teaches at some sort of a college for native people who want to become pastors. I wish I could think of the name of it right now...maybe you'll run into them!!!

  3. And "bottled water" in bags. Kassy today declared that she would prefer to live in Honduras because the food is better. She missses all the beans and arroz con leche and the piles of fresh mangoes. I completely understand the PriceMart/food choices conflict and I think your conclusion is perfect. It always boggled my mind how so much of the food in the stores was the SAME price but the incomes of the people around me were much lower than in the States.

  4. whew! that would make me want to nap, too! hope elliot feels better soon!

  5. When Jared and I were in Kyrgyzstan, there was a brand of laundry detergent called "Barf". In tiny print in English on the back there was a blurb explaining that "Barf" means "snow" in Russian.
    But that didn't make it any less funny; I never expected I would wash my clothes in barf.

  6. Just FYI, natilla from Zarcero (sold right next to Dos Pinos in the stores) is the BEST! Put that with a fresh loaf from Mus Mani in the morning - and YUM! Breakfast!


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