The grocery store is a necessary evil of everyday life. I don’t believe it to be anyone’s favorite place, unless you have just fled the house after your husband gets home for work because you cannot take one more whine from your kid. Then it is the greatest place on the planet – wait no that is Target, it is the second best place on the planet. I could write a whole other post on people’s grocery store behaviors that I just do not understand, but I won’t because the new international me is trying to be kind and empathetic to all humans. This post is about how the going grocery shopping has led to an unprecedented amount of stress for me, that generally ends in a few tears, and me hissing under my breath as I walk away….I REALLY MISS HEB. At the moment HEB is the thing I miss the most about the states. If we ever moved out of Texas to another state, it would be the thing that I miss the most then too. For those of you not the Austin/San Antonio, TX area it is a fantastically, wonderfully magical grocery store.
Before I tell you about grocery store, please know that all things here in Malaysia are just different enough here to make you feel slightly incompetent, and kind of like a dumb ass most of the time. Like every time you leave the house. I am sure in 6 months I will have it down and only feel like a dumb ass 40% of the time instead of 80%, but for now it is pretty much set at 80%, maybe 90%.
I have two grocery store’s within walking distance of my condo. I prefer the one that is a little further away in the other mall, not attached to our building. This means if I take B with me I have to take the stroller, because there is no other way I am getting him and the groceries back to the apartment. They have large wheeled carts that you can pull along behind you.
So picture this, american lady taller than almost everyone in the store, pushing a yelling toddler in a stroller with one hand and pulling a wheeling cart with the other. I am sure it is quite a sight.
This particular store is called Cold Storage, and is British. They have pretty much everything I need, sort of. There are glaring holes you find as you go down your shopping list gather the things you need for the recipes one has picked. This generally means you have to rethink what you are cooking on the fly which is frustrating. For instance, I was going to make Chicken Marsala, it is a family favorite, and I don’t really have to think to much when I make it at this point. That is a good thing considering I am starting at a disadvantage in my new kitchen. The appliances are ones made for a much smaller space than mine. Teeny tiny oven, teeny tiny glass top electric stove, which only has 2 burners. One large and one uselessly small. This is a big change from my nice big American gas range. So I have been trying to stick to recipes that I know I can cook well. They are taking me twice as long to cook, but don’t turn out inedible. So Chicken Marsala it is!
I need to get Marsala wine for this. They have a large wine section at this store, this is how it went:
Me: “Do you have Marsala Wine? Lady in section: No. Me: “Do you have Sherry?” Lady: No….Me: Do you perhaps know where I could find some locally?” Lady: “No, I only know about this section, in this store, and I don’t drink wine” Okie dokie then, you seem like the prefect person to be manning the wine/liquor section of the store.
Okay, we will have chicken with mushroom sauce. I will still need cornstarch for that, if I were cornstarch where would I be? Yeah I guess I am not cornstarch at the Cold Storage, because I am no where to be found. I guess I will have to make some sort of cream mushroom sauce, good thing I already have milk, butter and flour in the cart.
Now let me tell you about the produce section. The produce section has been the single most stressful part of the market shopping experience. Some of the produce is marked with stickers for the check out people some are not. The check out people do not weigh the fruit and veggies at the register. You have to some how get it weighed and a sticker put on in the produce department before you get to the register. I have been trying to figure out how to get my oranges and things marked for check out every time I have been in there. It is not marked anywhere. There are no signs that say get your apples weighed here. There are no scales with labels printers like say at Whole Foods (oh how I miss you Whole Foods). I have no idea how the produce section works. So yesterday after searching once again I just put my garlic, and bananas in my basket and said I will just ask the check out lady.
Fast forward to check out as expected the check out lady starts yelling for the produce manager to come and take my produce back to his department and get labels so she knows how much to charge me. There go the bananas, and there goes the garlic and ginger etc.
Me: “excuse me ma’am how does the produce section work?” Check out Lady: “What do you mean?” Me (oh thank god she speaks English) “how do I get the prices for you on the produce? I have looked and looked and I don’t understand how it works” Check out Lady: “Oh, I have no idea, you will have to ask the produce manager”. Me: “wait, what? You don’t know how the produce section works either?” Check out lady: I have no idea. Don’t worry about it, this is no problem” As she hands my bag of grapes to the produce guy as he runs off. Meanwhile all the ladies in the line in back of me are giving me the stink eye. The little voice inside my head is saying I really do not understand the conversation we just had.
So that is another shopping excursion down with me almost in tears hissing I miss HEB so much right now. I still don’t understand how the produce section works, but neither does the check out lady.