It will take me a while to get used to grocery shopping here. For one thing, you bring your own cloth grocery bag, or you pay for the bags you need. You bag your own groceries- there’s nobody to bag groceries for you, and the cashier doesn’t help- she’s just there to ring up your purchase. (Mine was very helpful when I accidentally dropped my bank card and the conveyer belt took it away though. That could have been very, very bad.)
The shopping carts are terribly amusing to me. They here have four independently oriented wheels so it’s much easier to roll a cart completely sideways at a perpendicular to your previous motion than with carts in the US. The first time I saw that action, I had a solid “what the heck?!” moment. I’ll probably never use one of the shopping carts though because I have to be able to carry anything I buy home, and it’s a good ten minute walk.
Kaufland is a two level store. The upper level is where you enter and exit, and it’s a circle that takes you past some electronics, some housewares, and some liquor and candy. The first time I walked through, I was unimpressed because I didn’t even notice the flat escalators that went down to the lower level.
The escalators are flat to accommodate the shopping carts, as it turns out, because the lower level is amazing- it’s where all the food is. The lower level is layer out as a huge circle with cold storage, a big fresh produce section, and a very, very wide selection.
The selection is where I’m running into problems though, because I don’t know any of the brands. Sure, every once in a while, I’ll see a familiar name. So far, Palmolive, Kleenex, Calgon, and Swiffer are the names for home products that I’ve seen. And there’s Heinz, Uncle Ben’s, and Kellogg’s on the food side of things. (I was terribly amused at the McDonald’s brand ketchup, too.) Beyond that, the names are all entirely different. I can tell if I’m getting Kaufland’s house brand (Klassik, I think) easily enough, but anything else is sort of an unknown for me.
Adding to the frustration is that the language barrier is thicker in the grocery store than in a lot of other places. I was getting dish soap this afternoon and I had to ask Robert if it said anything about cutting oil or grease because I don’t know the words for that yet. A lot of things are easy to spot because they just are- cheese is obviously cheese, in any language. Ketchup is ketchup, even though you have some very interesting varieties that you just don’t see in the US.
So this was what I was doing a while ago. I found the cheese, then I found the cream cheese. Thinking that the butter couldn’t be far away, but still not seeing it, I fired up the translation app on my phone, flipped it around so that it would translate English to German for a change, and tapped in the word butter. It came back with ‘butter.’
I was incredulous. The German word for butter is… butter?! Naturally. I looked around some more, and went another aisle or so down, and found… butter. A variety of types. (What the heck is truffle butter?!) The shapes and sizes were unfamiliar. Little tubs. Slabs that just felt oddly measured. No sticks- that’s not how it’s sold here, I guess. There were some odd little tubes, too.
I stood in front of that butter case, muttering to myself as I picked up various types of butter, turned them around, and put them back, for the better part of five minutes. I’m quite sure that I was starting to worry some of the other shoppers. I eventually chose one slab and one tub, not even thinking to check for salting- apparently salted butter isn’t as common here, so I’m not sure how much I’ll enjoy the ones I chose. Oh well, it’s a taste adventure.
My best score of the evening may well have been the lactose free, soy based chocolate puddings that I found. Well, at least I think that’s what they are. The word ‘dessert’ is very clear, and schokolade and laktosefrei are obvious enough. And the designs on the package look sort of puddingish.
I’ve already gotten attuned to looking for the word “soja” on dairy types of products, because that’s German for Soy. Soja usually means laktosefrei, which means I’m a much happier person. I haven’t been hungry enough to try them yet- I had dinner right before I shopped because I know better than to grocery shop while hungry, even here.
I can’t wait to try my schokolade dessert. It might even make me feel better about the butter.