Grocery Shopping 101

There are a few quirks about grocery shopping in Italy that make it different than the US. For starters, they don’t have traditional carts like we do. Instead, they have oversized plastic baskets that you wheel around the store like you do a child in a Radio Flyer wagon. Next, whenever you’re buying produce, you take your plastic bag full of goodies and walk it over to a scale. You then select the number on the machine that corresponds to a sign, then print out the price tag and stick it on the bag yourself. I inadeptly demonstrate here:

The shelves: Now, what you’ve heard about the pasta consumption over here is true – most Italians eat it every single day… and the grocery stores reflect that. Aisles upon aisles are stocked with nearly every type of pasta imaginable. Pasta in hundreds of shapes and sizes that I’ve never seen before, or could even dream up.

The deli: Ah, yes. The infamous Italian deli. Stocked with a plethora of specialty meats and cheeses and strange seafood concoctions that look like tentacle salads. Although I haven’t purchased any cold cuts yet, I can tell you the choices are aplenty.

The sweets: Chocolate on chocolate with chocolate. Boy, do these people love their Kinder. Or actually, does Kinder love them? Either way, there’s a ton of it over here, but not the same kinds that you can buy in other European countries such as the UK or Germany (to my dismay). There are lots of other brands, too (Milka, Nuovi, Lindt, etc.) but Kinder’s just in your face.

Also, NUTELLA. Did you really think I wouldn’t mention Nutella? It’s only one of my favorite foods on earth. Huge, ginormous, bigger than my face jars of Nutella can be found in every single grocery store. This is the birthplace of that ooey-gooey delicious chocolate crack, after all.

The produce: Alright, there’s no way of getting around this. The produce sections in Italy make this (primarily) vegan girl want to cry. Ask anyone who isn’t from Italy, and they’ll agree – you won’t find many fresh fruits & veggies. TMI, but I’ve already gotten sick. Side note: Stumbled upon a farmer’s market last week with fresh (well, at least better than the grocery stores) fruits and veggies. Best believe I’ll be trekking it over there as a regular, bright red reusable Lululemon bag and all.

Purchasing: The first thing the cashier asks you is how many bags you need. Unless I bring my own, I tend to shyly use my fingers to show a number – unsure if I’m really going to fit those bananas with those apples with those cans with those eggs with everything else in the number of bags I said I would. Moreover, everyone bags their own goods, so as soon as you’ve loaded the conveyer belt, get yourself to the other side real quick – the cashier’s already throwing your stuff down the chute.

I could go on about the little quirks and products at the grocery stores in Italy, but I’ll save that for a future post. Make sure to follow/subscribe to see what’s next!