Wednesday, March 23, 2011


We've had some questions, so a few explanations...

Grissini are super thin breadsticks -- long and crisp.  They're kind of like a no-salt version of a pretzel, but much lighter and yummier.

Blood oranges are a local variety that are widely available in the Mediterranean areas.  They have a slightly more bitter, grapefruit-ish flavor, and a GORGEOUS color.  Some of them are mostly bright orange with a few flecks of deep red.  Others are deep red all the way through.  It's always a surprise to see what it looks like inside!

There are many snack foods that are similar here, but they have a flavor that we love:  rosemary. It's possible to get olive oil & rosemary crackers that look like Saltines (and essentially are), and you can also get crackers like wheat thins (sort of) with olive pieces on them!

The fruit in the grocery stores is fairly similar pricewise to that you find in the States -- but if you go to the alimentari and get the fruit that's on "offerta" you can get very fresh, ripe fruit for the whole family for only about 2-3 euros.  Compare that to a candy bar, which is 1 euro -- certainly is an encouragement to eat healthfully!

The fruits and veggies are interesting, because the tolerance for imperfection is much, much higher.  I think they pick it closer to ripeness, and send it directly out without precooling.  This can lead to earlier rot rates, and most of the fresh produce has blemishes that need to be removed.  The flavor, however, is very good.
You DON'T see a lot of imported fruit/veg items.  Grapes?  Not in season = can't buy 'em.  Strawberries are only now starting to come in.  And they're local.  Mostly we're buying apples and oranges at the moment.  Fortunately, they're scrumptious so we haven't got bored yet.

Restaurants serve multiple courses, which theoretically allows you to choose your veggies, etc.  In reality, a single course is plenty to eat, so one rarely gets veggies in a restaurant meal unless you order something veggie-ish deliberately.

Skim milk is not available, to the best of our knowledge.  We certainly haven't seen it.  You can get whole or 2%.  Nonfat yoghurt is not available.  You DON'T see any of the modified food products (no fat, no carb, no whatever).  A cookie is an unapologetic COOKIE, by golly. 

The eggs are like farm eggs in the States:  thick shells, dark yellow/orange yolks, and very flavorful.  They are stored on the shelves in the grocery store, not in the refrigerated cases.  It took me 3 attempts at asking before I found them for the first time!

Bread is not really sold prepackaged.  You can (sort of) find some.  Mostly, however, you go to what amounts to a deli counter and ask them to saw some off a large (20" by 9") loaf.  Tell them how much you want, they weigh it, and off you go.

The supermarket butcher also has sides of beef hanging by hooks in the back.  The small butcher near us has an incredible variety of meat products, mostly slabs o' meat.  Much of it is minimally processed.  For example, the heads, feet, and other accessories are often included.  Feathers are sometimes present.

The freezer case is a treat to see -- full of frozen squid, octopus, mussels, eggplant, mushroom mixtures, and all sorts of other fun items.

Peanut butter is virtually nonexistent, but Nutella is ubiquitous. 

The overall quantity of choice is MUCH lower.  You want shampoo?  4 choices.  Soap?  maybe 10.  Eggs?  One type, two box sizes.  Milk?  2% or whole -- no brands.  Just TWO CHOICES.  Period.  It surely makes shopping a whole lot easier.  And I don't really miss the sense of control over my choices.  The choices I have are plenty to keep me satisfied -- and I don't take any time to compare.  I either buy the item, or I don't.  Done.

As I think of more items, I'll post them!




  1. I would love having only 4 choices for shampoo, along with everything else. It takes forever to search through the thousand brands and read all the labels so you're not eating more chemicals than food. Love farm eggs! I have a secret guy in Lilburn who has chickens...yum! Might be a little hard if there's no fruit in season....but I guess yu could just eat Nutella in that case!

  2. Love this too!! We'll have to tell you about the Farm Truck that now comes to Oak Grove once a week with local, fresh, in-season produce.