Let’s Go To A British Supermarket! Then Let’s Go To A German Supermarket!

July 8, 2014 | By | COMMENTS

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It’s that time again! The time to overuse exclamation points and to visit a supermarket in a foreign country! The last time we did this, it was in Australia and you all enjoyed yourselves so much I knew I had to do it again. This time, you’re getting two for the price of one: a visit to a British supermarket, then a visit to a German supermarket. Alas, I didn’t have a chance to go to a French supermarket, so we’ll have to save that for my next trip to Europe. Now, without further ado, let’s hop on over to the Notting Hill neighborhood of London and see what kind of food they’re selling to the locals.

First thing I saw upon entering a Tesco was this:

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A tower with all of the ingredients (or most of the ingredients) for a Pimm’s Cup: Pimm’s on the bottom, mint in the middle, lemons on top. Cucumbers, I suppose, were elsewhere.

Check out the British cream: single and double.

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Not sure of the difference, but I bet Brits will explain in the comments.

British strawberries are indeed daintier than their American cousins:

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Fresh egg noodles for stir-frying? Why doesn’t America have this?

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Memo to Britain: you’re spelling hummus wrong. (Or maybe we’re spelling it wrong? Or should I say wroung?)

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This felt very British to me:

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Look, soup in juice cartons. Ew!

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(Actually, that’s not a bad idea.)

We have brioche buns in America, but we don’t call them brochettes. That’s cute.

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I only eat my suet shredded:

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I like their yeast better (ours is powdered and comes in little packets):

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Is brown flour whole wheat flour?

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So this is the sugar that all the British cookbooks call for:

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Observe: eggs are not refrigerated in Europe.

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Ooooh, fresh spaghetti too? We don’t have that:

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Gluten-free goods: not just for Americans.

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Cereal that we don’t got:

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More British cereal: I like the eyes on the bottom of the box.

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As I was marveling at all the British candy, a grocery store manager asked me to stop taking pictures.

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Secretly, though, I took a few more (they’re not as good because I was being discreet).

Check it out: ratatouille in a can.

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Marrowfat peas. (What are those???)

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Rice pudding in a can. That’s a good idea!

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Rhubarb in a can: why don’t we have that in America?

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Beet juice (new to me):

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It’s hard to make this out, but it’s a package of fish for Fish Pie, in three colors: white, pink, and yellow. Question: why is that fish yellow?

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And thus ended my time at a British supermarket.

Fast forward a week, and I’m in Berlin at the mall connected to my hotel whereupon I discover a German supermarket called Kaiser’s.

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Let’s step inside, shall we?

First thing that I see is something called Physalis with a very Alice in Wonderland message on it: “Eat Me.”

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Too scared to know what happens if you do.

These vegetables may not seem special, but they seem to be a cross between scallions and spring onions which I haven’t seen at an American supermarket ever:

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Why do these eggs look like this?

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Look: more eggs out of the refrigerator.

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But you know what is refrigerated? Vacuum-sealed corn.

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Schmaltz, to me, is chicken fat. Is that what these are?

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White anchovies and pickled herring:

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All kinds of sausage (everywhere you go in Germany; it’s a nationwide sausage party):

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This was the coolest thing I saw: pre-made spaetzle. I think this would do really well in the States, I really do.

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I don’t know what kind of chocolates these are, but the kittens on the package are so cute:

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Jams from berries I’ve never heard of:

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More funky cereal:

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And more:

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Soda with cool labels:

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I think they’re making these berries up, I really do:

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Not sure how this translates, but I’m guessing: “Texas Art” which is a funny name for a mixture of beans, corn, and red peppers.

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Nervous to know what’s in here:

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Weiners in jars with liquid are not the most appetizing things I’ve ever seen:

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But I would give Bacon Pep a try:

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These Jamaican Hot Chips are full of secrets:

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And salad dressing isn’t salad dressing, it’s salad mayonnaise:

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That, my friends, concludes our visits to British and German supermarkets. Now I’m off to visit an American one because it’s almost time to shop for dinner.

See Also:
Let’s Go To An Australian Supermarket!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Travel

  • Natasja

    We buy those German soda bottles, just because we like the labels too :)

  • Natasja

    We buy those German soda bottles, just because we like the labels too :)

  • Naomi White

    yellow fish is smoked haddock – you can’t make a fish pie without it.

    Also double cream has a higher fat content than single cream which means its better for cooking (I think, I live in Ireland and our cream is so rich that double cream here is basically solid and kind of obsolete)

  • Anonymous

    Double cream is what I think you called heavy cream. Single is just a thinner version.

    Marrowfat peas are peas that instead of being harvested when fresh are left to dry. It’s what we make mushy peas with (wasabi peas too I think)

    The yellow fish is probably haddock which has been smoked. The yellow is actually just food colouring, probably so people know it’s smoked

    The suet is shredded because it’s added to pastry to make it amazing. It’s how St John make theirs.

  • Kohlrabi

    Ok , so on top are coloured boiled eggs to be eaten at half time during the world cup (what? not me), after that the Schmalz is made from pig fat (also very common/popular: geese fat on the far right), the Katzenzungen chocolate with the kitties on top is very soft chocolate, very delicious!, the jams are made from blue berries and currants (not made up!), the meat in the glasses is pig head in/with gelatine/aspic, I never tasted that stuff because I just think it’s gross (anything in aspic, actually) and the rest is self explanatory I think?
    Oh, that Soda is actually quite tasty apart from the cool labels. Bionade with the blue labels is made by fermenting stuff. Sounds weird, but I especially like the orange-ginger one!

  • Hope

    You’ve already got most of the answers for the British food. Strong brown flour is not necessarily wholemeal, but ‘strong’ means that it’s high in gluten for making bread. ‘Plain’ flour is general cooking. ‘Self-raising’ flour has baking powder already added–most commonly used for making cakes.

    Caster sugar is finely ground, but still granulated–golden caster is not quite as refined as white caster.
    Suet is for steamed ‘puddings’–such as Christmas pudding, Spotted dick and other light, steamed desserts (as well as pastry).

    Soup in a tetra-pac is generally a ‘fresh’ soup with good quality ingredients–better for the environment than plastic too.

    The cream is probably the equivalent to light and heavy cream. It is possible to get whipping cream too. Although double cream whips just fine.
    Beet juice is the new superfood.

    In your German supermarket; physalis, which you may have already looked up, is also known as Cape gooseberry, golden berry, Aztec berry, Peru berry–take your pick. :)
    I can’t say what the Germans use all the different fats for, but in the UK, lard is generally recommended for pastry that is used for savoury pies and goose fat is the favourite for light, delicious, roast potatoes.
    It’s fun to see what other people find fascinating about supermarkets–although you need to get to a bigger one to find a ‘real’ supermarket. The ones in the town centres are more like convenience stores.

  • Erin Nissley

    The chocolates with the kittens on them translate to “Cat Tongues” in German. They’re milk chocolate with a creamy center. My Swiss grandmother loved those because they were a favorite childhood treat.

  • Erin Nissley

    The chocolates with the kittens on them translate to “Cat Tongues” in German. They’re milk chocolate with a creamy center. My Swiss grandmother loved those because they were a favorite childhood treat.

  • Erin Nissley

    The chocolates with the kittens on them translate to “Cat Tongues” in German. They’re milk chocolate with a creamy center. My Swiss grandmother loved those because they were a favorite childhood treat.

  • sewittybit

    Seriously? You can’t get fresh pasta or noodles in U.S. supermarkets???

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    I’ve seen fresh pasta, like linguine, but never fresh spaghetti or fresh egg noodles for stir-frys.

  • Louise Marston

    I think others have covered answers on the UK questions. On cream, out double cream is typically even higher in fat than heavy cream – more like manufacturing cream. Also, our yeast looks like yours – the foil packets are inside that box.
    You might also be interested in this piece on US vs UK eggs, and why yours are refridgerated and ours aren’t (yours are also washed):
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/

  • Lili

    Preisselberren are best translated as lingonberries in English. My Grandmother used to use this jam as condiment with certain version and beef cuts. A typical meal for holidays consists of beef with Preisselbeeren and horseradish sauce.

  • Jess

    If you go to Asian supermarkets there are all sorts of fresh noodles. Egg noodles, wonton noodles, fresh ride noodles.

  • Jess

    *rice

  • Viv

    I’ve been able to find Weetabix in Ohio and now in Arizona; maybe it’s because we’re a military family, and the grocery stores near base stock more things from overseas. Schwein = pig, kopf = head; Katzenzungen might be cats’ tongues (there is a Portuguese sweet cracker with the same name). That’s all I’ve got; great post!

  • Charlotte K

    We have fresh stirfry noodles in ordinary grocery stores in Massachusetts.

  • Peter Dennehy

    Love your foreign supermarket visits! My favorite thing in foreign countries is seeing food stores. I think you have a food network series in your future – visiting grocery stores around the world. I would like an invite to the premiere…fresh and easy would have worked with some of those tesco products

  • AG

    Loved this. again! Some notes: Why do the prices seem so cheap? The London candy aisle looks like the one they have in Fairway, that multi-colored fish is horrific (so is some of the other stuff, eggs outside of the refrigerator still freak me out, I guess American supermarkets aren’t that much worse than those in the rest of the world.

  • Charlene

    We can get fresh spaetzle in the refrigerated meat section in Cleveland, OH. The same company makes fresh pierogies with various fillings. Fresh sauerkraut, too. We have a lot of people with east European heritage, here.

  • Ttrockwood

    I lovelovelove going to supermarkets in other countries!! Compared to grocery prices in nyc that London tesco looks really cheap!
    When i was in spain i bought those milk carton soups of gazpacho (ok, i bought three different ones!) and that stuff was amazing….! Love these posts from you.
    The “salad cream” is a lot like miracle whip, used for mayo based salads- not like a regular salad dressing on a green salad.

  • Katrin

    Since you wondered why eggs aren’t refrigerated in British and German supermarkets: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/3/

    By the way, British yeast also comes powdered and in little packages. Look at the small print on the yeast box: 6x7g = 6 sachets with 7g of yeast each. The gorgeous thing about German supermarkets is that in addition to dry yeast, pretty much every supermarket also sells refrigerated fresh yeast!

    The “Texanische Art” tin label means “Texas-style vegetable mix”.

  • Liz Gibbs

    Wow, maybe because we have such a heavy Asian influence on our food ( I’m in Oz) Also, U.S. recipes always confuse me when they call for “heavy” cream..cream is just cream here, had to work out fat content to see what the recipe meant! I’m sewittybit by the way.

  • virginia blane

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  • Liz Gibbs

    We have them in Australia but they’re called Weetbix. Thought my friend who moved over from the U.K. was pronouncing it wrong.

  • rasa ramanauskas

    I see many of the food items in Euro-style grocery stores in the Chicagoland area, even some suburbs. I also enjoy looking at the package art. Didn’t you buy anything at these shops?

  • M@

    Interesting how many of the items that seemed strange in British supermarkets (fresh egg noodles and spaghetti, Weetabix, canned rice pudding, marrowfat peas, and most of the chocolate bars in the candy picture) are quite common in Canadian supermarkets, or at least those in southern Ontario.

    And I’m no linguist, but “Texanische Art” sounds like it means “Texas Style”, to me…

  • Maria

    I loved this post, because I love this kind of “sightseeing”. You must come back to France for some grocery shopping–it’s awesome.

  • Ali

    So fun! By the way, you can buy beet juice here…my husband is a huge fan, crazy healthy stuff if you can get past earthy juice…but just a few ounces a day has big health benefits.

  • Matt Senger

    actually the British soups are so much more imaginative than those in the US, and as you conclude, using cardboard is environmentally sounder than cans. why is it less appealing than juice in a cardboard box?

  • @viewfromalake

    You have reminded me of things I cannot get since emigrating to Montreal from England. Smoked white fish (ideally without so much colouring) for kedgeree for example – a fish dish served for breakfast that we stole from India in the days of the Raj. Also marrowfat peas are best bought dried and soaked overnight – the best pea you will ever eat. They are the stuff of mushy peas to go with fish and chips but I prefer them unmushed. Also cream that is simply labelled and does not a Maths degree to work out the percentages.

  • Arlene

    The prices are in Euros. You need to add approximately 38-40% to get the US equivalent.

  • http://www.wineeducation.com/ Stephen Reiss, PhD, CWE

    Eggs are only refrigerated in the US, by law. Refrigerating is considered bad, but the washing process in the US takes away that protection the eggs naturally have, and so they have to be refrigerated.

  • Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    Adam, thank you for taking me on a visit to a British supermarket – I needed that! sigh About the cream: Double cream is what we call whipping cream in the US; and single cream, half and half. And houmous is standard British English spelling for our hummus.

  • Laura Mullin

    fyi, weetabix is readily available in american grocery stores now. i buy it all the time in LA! they even sell it at trader joe’s.

  • Erin B.

    Oh! Chocolate cat tongues! I love those. My dad found them in France one time, and sent them to me. Now, anytime he finds them anywhere (typically in European specialty stores) he sends them to me. People always look at me funny when I tell them what I’m eating. Because, really, when you think “cat tongue” your immediate association is not necessarily “mmm…tasty chocolate treat.”

  • Icechip

    Don’t you live in LA? Surely there are supermarkets with fresh pastas, including egg noodles for stir fry. We have them in supermarkets here in North Carolina. Perhaps you need to change markets.

  • Nancy Ewart

    Fascinating post but I have to chime in on the fresh noodles – our local supermarket carries fresh noodles AND pasta. All kinds, all sizes, all shapes and even made with different kinds of ingredients – spinach pasta, buckwheat, etc. But this SF. I guess LA is just not as civilized as we are (neiner, neiner, neiner). Etc. Seriously, LA has a huge Asian population; you must be able to get fresh noodles there. And what about the gourmet stores? No fresh Italian pasta? Bet you can find it if you look. BTW – really enjoying this tour of England and Europe. It sure brings back memories.

  • Nancy Ewart

    Fascinating post but I have to chime in on the fresh noodles – our local supermarket carries fresh noodles AND pasta. All kinds, all sizes, all shapes and even made with different kinds of ingredients – spinach pasta, buckwheat, etc. But this SF. I guess LA is just not as civilized as we are (neiner, neiner, neiner). Etc. Seriously, LA has a huge Asian population; you must be able to get fresh noodles there. And what about the gourmet stores? No fresh Italian pasta? Bet you can find it if you look. BTW – really enjoying this tour of England and Europe. It sure brings back memories.

  • Nancy Ewart

    Fascinating post but I have to chime in on the fresh noodles – our local supermarket carries fresh noodles AND pasta. All kinds, all sizes, all shapes and even made with different kinds of ingredients – spinach pasta, buckwheat, etc. But this SF. I guess LA is just not as civilized as we are (neiner, neiner, neiner). Etc. Seriously, LA has a huge Asian population; you must be able to get fresh noodles there. And what about the gourmet stores? No fresh Italian pasta? Bet you can find it if you look. BTW – really enjoying this tour of England and Europe. It sure brings back memories.

  • Nancy Ewart

    Fascinating post but I have to chime in on the fresh noodles – our local supermarket carries fresh noodles AND pasta. All kinds, all sizes, all shapes and even made with different kinds of ingredients – spinach pasta, buckwheat, etc. But this SF. I guess LA is just not as civilized as we are (neiner, neiner, neiner). Etc. Seriously, LA has a huge Asian population; you must be able to get fresh noodles there. And what about the gourmet stores? No fresh Italian pasta? Bet you can find it if you look. BTW – really enjoying this tour of England and Europe. It sure brings back memories.

  • Chris Boardman

    ~ Schmaltz (lard) is never chicken fat but usually comes from pigs. In your photo it also shows Schmaltz made from goose.
    ~ Heidelbeere is a European blueberry.
    ~ Schwarze Johannisbeere is black currant
    ~ Wilde Preiselbeere is a wild lingonberry
    ~ SchweisnkopfSuelze is head cheese
    ~ Katzenzungen are just long pieces chocolates in a shape that can be compared to a cat’s tongue

  • TrainandScoff

    Yikes Adam, could be a whole other post on the type of British Supermarket you went in!

    Tesco Metro are a relatively newer type of store. Smaller and often in Urban centres. The prices can be a few % higher than in bigger/out of town supermarkets for the convenience. They kind of replace the little corner-shops that used to be everywhere in Britain but that kind of died out with the rise of the supermarkets.

    There’s is also the ‘class of supermaket’ debate. Like everything else in the UK, there’s got to be class involved somewhere. For a chuckle, Google “Overhead in Waitrose”

  • davidross47@gmail.com

    You can find “fresh” [i.e. packaged but not dried] pasta in most supermarkets nowadays, but the favorite kinds are ravioli, tortellini and fettuccine

  • An Nuyen

    As someone whose favorite place to shop is the supermarket (so many things in exchange for so little money!), I found this thoroughly delightful.

  • M

    physalis seems to be what we call ground cherries in Quebec

  • M

    physalis seems to be what we call ground cherries in Quebec

  • Natalie

    salad mayonnaise isn’t the same thing as salad dressing. we have pre-mixed salad dressing to. and then we have salad mayonnaise – for when you want to use mayonnaise in your salad, as for e.g. in potato salad. normally it’s just a lighter kind of mayonnaise

    texas art.. it’s quite common in German to associate everything with beans and corn with Texas style cooking. not quite inventive, I know.

    those onions can be compared to spring onions. though, their taste would remind you of leek

  • Karen

    The wieners in jars with liquid are probably similar to Vienna sausages that come in cans in the States.

  • The Swede
  • Kle1

    These cereals aren’t really strange. They’re just alternate versions of the same varieties we have in the US. Some are made by the same big companies. They just have different names. Check out Walkers crisps and Galaxy chocolate bars in the UK. The labels look identical to Lays and Dove. Oh and we definitely get fresh pasta and Weetabix here. Even in my “small” town.

  • BobYes

    I’m just back from an Asian market and they have every imaginable sort of fresh noodles packaged and ready to go. Even spaghetti.

  • Flump

    The packaging for Walkers and Galaxy may be similar but they taste completely different!

  • AG

    That I know. Still seems low.

  • Brenda

    I don´t know about the Vienna sausages, but the wieners (wien = vienna) are commonly just heated in their liquid (broth-like water). In the Netherlands, they are then eaten on a roll with a little mustard, hot dog style. In Germany they usually accompany a portion of fries.

  • Margie

    I love your blog, but this article finally made me sign in to comment. I can’t wait for you to visit a Japanese grocery store! My two favorites growing up are a fermented drink called Calpis, and natto (fermented soy beans that Anthony Bourdain finds particularly delicious…not). When my japanese grandmother used to visit us in South Florida, her daily “sight-seeing” consisted of visits to the local grocery stores. She was amazed at the many, many options just for cats and dogs. I remember that we bought her two extra suitcases to take home, which she filled with food. She fell in love with Cheetos, and filled one suitcase with bags of it.

  • Meghanssj

    I know what you are saying M@, I grew up in Canada (Winnipeg), and Canadian grocery stores are a British-American mash-up. There is plenty that is familiar.

    I think that Texas stuff is their translation of “Texas Caviar.”

  • Arlyn Lichthardt

    I’m surprised that in the UK store you didn’t come across “spotted dick”. Doesn’t that seem appetizing? Then there’s pudding. How about suet pudding? Beef or mutton fat for dessert — just what I’d order! Or, pasties? If you asked for some, or even one — depending on where you were — you’d get a very strange look, or meet the bouncer, post haste!

  • Hilary

    When we were in England we bought sticky toffee pudding ice cream at a grocery store! It was beyond delicious and I’ve never been able to find it in the states.

  • http://souvenirfinder.com/ Kristin

    One of my readers just tipped me off to this post– fun, this is exactly what I write about on my site Souvenir Finder! I am so obsessed with foreign grocery stores that I hope to feature every country’s supermarket eventually. I also recently featured Tesco– if it’s ok to include a link here, here are my supermarket posts: http://souvenirfinder.com/category/supermarket-finds/ (Marks & Spencer is forthcoming) and an Austrian supermarket (close to some of your German finds–like franks in a jar). My standard is: could I buy it in NYC (where I live) as to whether I include it– which excludes a lot. We have several items in common on the Tesco post (rhubarb, mushy peas, candy etc but you came up with some I missed for sure. As you experienced, lighting usually is awful in supermarkets, so it’s hard to get good shots (and I’ve been kicked out before too– or just looked at weirdly– I just find another branch and try to be more discreet with my iphone). Glad to have found a fellow supermarket junkie!

  • Pinkmums

    Omg! I enjoyed those trips to the supermarkets. I loved it. Now I’m wondering why do we refrigerate eggs? Hummmmmm. Why isn’t everyone else doing it? Are these supermarkets u visited equal to a Trader Joes or a Keyfood or Safeway in the States? Oh,sorry I’m new here Hello.

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  • http://pratofundo.com/ Vitor Hugo

    Uhh, I like supermarket too. So many options, heheh

    In Brazil, eggs also aren’t sold refrigerated. But getting home, they go to the fridge (well, at least I do).

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  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

    Wow, maybe because we have such a heavy Asian influence on our food (
    I’m in Oz) Also, U.S. recipes always confuse me when they call for
    “heavy” cream..cream is just cream here, had to work out fat content to
    see what the recipe meant! I’m sewittybit by the way.

  • http://dichohecho.tumblr.com/ Sarah

    That’s because they use different formulations to suit the climate of different countries. American Cadbury’s is horrid.

  • Claire Barker

    That should be “overheard in Waitrose”