Tag Archives: food culture

Embrace the Progress! Supermarket Tourism

30 Jun

As this goes to print (it doesn’t actually get printed, I’ve just adopted the jargon of the journalism industry), I’m keenly aware that I’m in direct competition with irresistible headlines such as The Sun’s “JAWS IN CORNWALL, E.T. IN ESSEX!”

Why go on? Especially faced with such blatantly sensationalist and untrue claims. Unless they were quoting from the Retro Cinema Club’s schedules for Cornwall and Essex respectively, in which case I apologise. How embarrassing.

Whatever the case, it is my firm opinion that the world needs good  adequate amateur travel-related words that attempt to be humourous. Since I don’t see anyone else stepping up, it falls to me.

Today’s topic typically takes the form of something not that “travely”. By now we’re all aware the main reason I love travel is for the food. Now most people would probably think this is limited to cafes, restaurants, local street food, and the token loosely cultural item at McDonald’s.

Turkey’s “McTurco” is basically a regular burger with flat bread instead of burger buns. Mmmmm cultural!

But you’d be mistaken. A wise person once opened my eyes (metaphorically) to the fact that supermarkets are one of the most culturally fascinating places in any new place you visit. This is handy since you will find a supermarket or at least a convenience store in most developed places you go these days, except maybe New Zealand.*

Why do I find something so mundane, so interesting? Well, you’d think having posted myself a question on my own blog, I’d have a definitive answer ready. But I think such predictability would add much un-needed quality where its not needed.

In truth I’m not that sure why I love browsing the shelves of lurid packaging, weird shaped breads and drinks with infused flavours I associate with fabric softener. I’d like to think its because given the majority of developed-country citizens shop in such places, the supermarket gives a fascinating insight in to how they cook, eat and live.

Take for example, the scene friends and I witnessed on a trip to St. Petersburg. Rather than wasting precious shelf space on more bread, cereal, fruit, or organic pot-set yogurt, an entire aisle of a very large supermarket was devoted to vodka. And who am I to complain? When we saw the rate at which locals were loading up on pine-infused potato juice, it became clear that no one was there to stock up on pointless solids.

Like I said, I’d like to think I find foreign supermarkets so interesting for the insight into modern culture. But really, I’m afraid it probably has more to do with things like this:

If you were expecting a sophisticated and discerning palate, you’ve come to the wrong blog.

Somehow, they’ve managed to get all the flavour layers of a Mars bar in to a single liquid. Why this hasn’t reached Australia yet, I’ll never know. I could write a whole review of Mars milk now, but I might save that for when ideas run critically low.

As far as I’m concerned, new experiences are new experiences. Whether that’s getting a delicious $1 meal from a Vietnamese street vendor, writing yourself off on pine cone vodka in St. Petersburg, or simply enjoying a chocolate bar-flavoured milk drink in London. Who cares? As long as you try something different.

Thanks for reading, safe supermarket visits to you all. J

*Please, no New Zealand-related hate mail. It’s a joke. Now you can go and pick on a country smaller than you to make yourself feel better.