Today I was overwhelmed with questions. I have been here for over three weeks now but today was my first official grocery shopping experience. I’ve bought boxes of soup packages (quick snacks at work between classes) and muesli bars (breakfast on the go), and I’ve bought bed linen and found colourful stamps to use when I’m marking work. I can do shopping. But groceries?
I finished work early today because of Chinese New Year so I wandered off to the grocery store, grabbed a basket, ignored the throng of last-minute shoppers (oops, I forgot it’s a public holiday Monday and Tuesday, too), and set about getting my groceries.
First thought: breakfast. I love having my breakfast omelette and a yogurt each morning. Mmm, yogurt!
Oh. The brand of yogurt I like to buy is only available in a 1L container in a flavour I don’t like (peach mango). The other brands are unrecognisable to me, except for one which I already know I don’t want because it’s not low fat and it’s only available in tiny tubs, each sold separately. This one looks OK – but will it taste good? I’ll risk it. Try new things, blah, blah, blah. Now … what else do I need for breakfast?
Eggs! I miss my morning omelette. Mmm, I can smell it now! … Which ones are free range? They all say “farm eggs” but nothing says where it’s laid. Are these free range, barn laid or cage eggs? The free range are usually the most expensive, so if I buy the most expensive box I should be getting free range eggs, right? But what if they’re not free range? Will the chickens forgive my ignorance or will they haunt me in my sleep and give me omelette-induced indigestion as I toss and turn and thrash about in a dreamscape riddled with cut beaks and featherless hens? Worse, what will my mother say if she knows I’m not eating free range eggs?
Moving on. Dinner. Mmm, a chicken and walnut salad … Oh! Here’s the olive oil. But … There is nothing worse than gross olive oil in a salad dressing. Do I pay three times the price for the brand I recognise, or do I risk it and go with the cheap brand that has multiple languages on the label and the picture of an awkward looking child?
Lettuce … I’ve found bok choy and choy sum but where’s the damn lettuce? And how hard is it to find green apples? AND WHERE IS THE WINE?!
Ah, the wine … French, Spanish, Australian, South African … there is an abundance of wine. But … but … what’s good? And why am I expected to pay $40 for a bottle of wine I buy in Australia for $8? If that’s what they charge for a cheap bottle I wouldn’t normally drink, what do they charge for something I would?
I emerge from the grocery store frazzled and a little too desperate to open the impulse-bought Pringles and the last-minute brownies that stared at me while I stood in the check-out queue for twenty minutes. I have wine (it tastes like vinegar), ham (chicken seemed to be sold out), lettuce (found the sucker), eggs (I hope the chickens are forgiving), olive oil (I went with the recognised brand), balsamic vinegar (it was covered in Italian therefore it must be reasonable), and – after all that – another question: why am I food shopping when I can just eat out every day?