Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grocery shopping: finding what you want

One of the best things of living close to downtown in Rio is that everything is walking distance. After several years in the US, this is quite refreshing and not owning a car feels liberating!

Until you need to go grocery shopping... I mean, there are 2 grocery shops within 10 minutes walk from our apartment, but they are small and cluttered. For their size they carry an amazing assortment of goods, and sometimes I wonder how they make it fit. But the problem is that you never know what you might (or not) find there. Fresh groceries usually arrive one day a week, so salad is usually unavailable for 2 days prior to a new delivery for example.

Usually cooking is planned at home, and when at the grocery shop things have to be adapted or completely changed because some ingredient or other is not available that day. At first this lead to some interesting interactions with the clerks: "I swear I saw the tahini right here yesterday!". And while the "disappearing" goods were somewhat exotic, I understood that they could carry a low stock on it and therefore if 2 people decided to buy it on the same day they might not have any left for the next customer. 

But then yesterday I wanted to buy chickpeas... nothing uncommon for Brazilian cooking (although most of it is imported from other countries) and I had had no problem finding it last week. Grocery store #1 did not have it... At grocery store #2 I asked for chickpeas and the guy looked at me and said: "Ah, that's a brand of black beans, right?". WTF?? Conclusion: no channa masala for dinner...

Any shopping mishaps lately? Or while traveling?

PS- Carrefour, Sam's Club and even Wal Mart have stores here in Rio... just that these stores are usually placed in the outskirts of the city, where people drive to and therefore can take more home than what they can carry.


  1. Hilarious post! I generally swap white beans for garbanzos when we're out. It works pretty well for hummus. I'm guessing it'd work well for channa masala as well? :)

  2. Hi LLL!
    Thanks for your comment!
    I've tried using white beans in different recipes (hummus is great) but somehow it did not work that well for picky Indian eaters in traditional Indian dishes :P
    Suggestions are always welcome though!