Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grocery Stores Offer Glimpse of Culture

Grocery stores could be the secret to saving big bucks while traveling. I discovered this while in Latvia and Sweden, but this realization should be nothing new! In Latvia, where G is a native, we knew exactly what we wanted and were able to save a lot of money when comparing our meals to restaurant prices. The grocery store is a great place to interact with locals as well. Just observing the layout of the store, what people have in their carts, and how they shop can be entertaining and informative. For instance, in Latvia, the aisles were winding and permitted basically only one route throughout the store. The store also provided a glimpse into "real" Latvian food, and showed what most of the people ate.
Sweden was a tad different. The grocery store we went to in Stockholm was located underneath, that's right-underneath, a department store downtown. I felt like I was entering a secret lair, the store was concealed so well from the street. In Stockholm, the grocery store was much larger and fashioned after the grocery stores in the U.S. Here we did a grab-n-go; we grabbed food we weren't sure about and we went. We did ask a local her opinion on lingonberry jam, and she did not hesitate to point us to the most popular brand. Here also we bought Paskmust, a children's drink that in my opinion was disgusting. But hey, you've got to try everything once...

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