Friday, September 26, 2008

Culture Shock Part II: Obtaining Provisions and Sustinence

So the grocery store is weird. I always find them a little intimidating, but here, it seems particularly so. Things aren't what I expect them to be, and the there is the pesky metric system, and on top of everything is bilingual, and frequently this means one side of the package is in English and the other is in French, so if the box is turned to the French side, I don't always know what it is. 3 semesters of French at MTSU does not make me a competent grocery shopper when accounting for the possibility that a rouge Huguenot might be roaming my local grocery store.

Let's start in the dairy isle. They sell milk in bags here. Yes. In bags. Apparently the idea is that you put it into your own pitcher and recycle the bags. Every Canadian I've spoken to about this thinks it is the most logical thing ever. Every American I've talked to about this with thinks its the weirdest freakin' thing ever.

Also they have homo milk, and by that they mean homogenized milk, not milk for the gays. But Americans giggle, while the Canadians look at us like we're weird.

Secondly, things sold by weight are generally (but not always) sold in 100 gram units. Lets take the example of lunch meat. I know that 1 pound of sliced turkey is about a week of sandwiches for 1 person. This is about, according to my computer's unit converter tool, 450 grams. Since I don't bring my laptop to the grocery, and I have an abysmal memory, I don't always remember this. The particularly odd thing is that at the farmer's market, stuff is sold in pounds. Now I'm even more confused.

Finally, the cereal isle, which I don't always like in the best of US supermarkets, because it can be cognitively overwhelming. There are colors and ads and cartoon characters and whining children and competing health claims. It is sensory overload, pure and simple, something I'm overly prone to at the best of times. My problem with it here, in addition to all of that is that, I don't recognize very many of the cereals. I mean there are the typical kids brands, but I am trying to eat healthfully, and frankly, the only cereal I recognize is the raisin bran. Not that it is unhealthful, but maybe I'd like something different, too.

So I feel as though I have been left in a strange country unsure what I should/could/would like to eat. I'm seriously considering giving up and subsisting on wine, cheese and frozen pizzas.

The good news is that Costco is pretty much the same. My same membership even works. The bad news is that I have 36 rolls of "bath tissue" or "papier hygienique" that I do not know where to put.

And in all seriousness, I like my new home. I love discovering other cultures. But it can be thoroughly exhausting; I'm just glad I get to use my primary language.


smelk-o-matic said...

Man - it sounds like you're having an awesome time exploring your new home. But seriously... milk bags? Get real, people!!


TheLumpyOne said...

[quote kicklucky] Its Rogue, not Rouge. I'd remember that or you will not be taken seriously ever...[/quote]