I think my most alienating activity since being in France has BY FAR been the food shop. As my colocation* shares all their food and eats together most nights, I’ve managed to get away with not visiting the supermarket until today. So off I went, excited by the prospect of seeing some different foods and also grabbing some home comforts.
I went to the local Monoprix as recommended by my colocs*, armed with a few strong plastic bags and my backpack (you have to pay for carrier bags here). I was told I could get some toiletries and make up that I needed in the Monoprix too, kill two birds with one stone, why not?
First thing I found strange was that toiletries, clothes and stationary items were on the ground floor, with escalators going up to the actual grocery store. I keep trying to find a reason for why I find that so strange and I really can’t, it’s just bizarre. So I picked up a basket and took a slow mooch around, so slow that I’m sure the security guard thought I was up to something and seemed to follow me around the store. He left when it was clear I was headed towards the Tampax, although since there were an old man and a lady already in this area already reading each box intently and discussing which brand to buy, I proceeded to do that thing where you loiter around pretending to be so interested by cat food/paracetamol/childrens clothes until they leave. This went on for at least 10 minutes while they examined every box of Tampax on the shelf, but I just couldn’t bring myself to invade on this conversation, especially since I didn’t really know what I was looking at myself…
After the Tampax fiasco I went UPSTAIRS to the grocery store and thought about my next plan of action. I found out that fruit and veg here is quite expensive, as I had particularly wanted some celery that I could dip in houmous which was about 2 euro 30, and which had a little fly in it. I went off the idea very quickly.
Shortly after looking at the fruit and veg, I found what was basically an England corner. Fray Bentos, HP sauce and Ambrosia were giving me butterflies, but I resisted and moved on to find some really strange-looking French chilled foods. I didn’t buy them to say the least.
Shortly after, I found my favourite aisle and suddenly felt much more at home. Upsettingly however alcohol overall doesn’t seem to be that much cheaper than it is in the UK, but the wine is fairly okay and so it looks like that will be my drink of choice for the next year. I couldn’t find any cider though which really surprised me, I thought the French loved the stuff!? (I quote, ‘it’s cidre not cider’). I will have to look harder next time, although somehow I don’t think my faithful Strongbow will be on the cards.
I continued to source items from the list my house mates had given me, spent some more time wandering around like a lost puppy and then picked up a sandwich before leaving, which I am pretty sure the checkout girl laughed at as she scanned it through the till. I did feel a bit weird opening up the sandwich on leaving Monoprix as it came to my attention that I haven’t seen any French people walking around eating on the go here. The sandwich was soggy and disgusting which perhaps explains why they don’t.
Been as I’d already shown myself up enough as a foreigner I decided to live up to the whole taboo and take a distressed supermarché selfie. No shame here, I’ll just be over there with the PG tips and the Heinz baked beans…
I am slightly concerned what I’m going to eat for the rest of the year, as a lot of foods I cook include lots of veg which I found to be quite expensive in Monoprix. There is however a market at the end of my road most mornings which I’ve been told is a lot cheaper and is better in quality, so perhaps I’ll try that. The problem is that I am quite lazy and if I can’t get all of my food in one place then I would really prefer to starve than go to multiple places (sorry Mum).
My coloc is cooking a curry tonight, so perhaps I’ll postpone too much thinking until tomorrow 😉
*colocation = a house share
*coloc = a house mate