Posted by: scribe9 | January 11, 2010

Supermarket sweep

I just returned from the supermarket, where there’s been a changing of the guard in the produce section. New Zealand apples have totally disappeared, and American apples—virtually all the same varieties, such as Braeburn (which is a New Zealand cultivar) and Granny Smith (an immigrant from Australia).

At first I thought that applesauce was unavailable here. In the canned fruit aisle, apples are diced or sliced or in pie filling (there’s apricot pie filling too, but no cherry pie filling—they don’t have sour cherries here). I finally found applesauce in the exotic food department, with the South African specialties. It’s made here, but with its label in Afrikaans as well as English.

It was no surprise to find Coke here. Coca-Cola also bottles the local soft drink—L&P, for Lemon and Paeroa (the local source of the fizzy water)—as it has in other countries we’ve visited. Pepsi’s available, but in small quantities. (We’ve seen very few soda fountains; sometimes when one orders a pop in a restaurant, it comes in a small bottle with a glass of ice. We’ve never seen anything approaching the size of a Big Gulp.) There’s plenty of fruit juice, and frozen fruit, but no frozen juice concentrate.

I went looking for antacids and found only small bottles of white Titrilac pills, no big bottles with hundreds of green or mixed pastel Tums or Rolaids. One is tempted to conclude that New Zealanders don’t have nearly the digestive problems Americans do.

I’ve never seen unsweetened chocolate in a grocery store (Kiwi tastes tend to run to milk chocolate in large quantities). I finally happened on it at a winery, where it was sold to be enjoyed with Pinot Noir.

There are vast ranges of tea, as one would expect, but only Starbucks carries Chai tea bags. On the other hand, Chai syrup, for lattés, is readily available.

With tuna, the choice isn’t just between water pack and oil pack; it also comes in brine or olive oil. But wait, there’s more. It’s obvious that New Zealanders are fond of prepared foods when they are offered tuna at least twenty other ways. Which curry do you prefer: panang, red, or green? You can have sundried tomato with mayo, tomato salsa, tomato and onion, or sundried tomato and onion. Satay? Sweet or plain chilli (as they spell it here)?

There are other line extensions, too. Arnott’s is roughly equivalent to Nabisco. When we lived in Australia, a dozen years ago, Arnott’s made one kind of TimTam, which is a chocolate-coated chocolate sandwich cookie. Now there are twelve varieties—not keeping up with Oreos, but still cutting a wide swath in the biscuits aisle, and making me wider, too.

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