I have a new blog friend, which is not surprising. I have only been blogging for one month, so all my friends are technically new friends.
My friend is Willowtree, and his blog is called ‘A dingo’s got my barbie’ (what a tribute to Lindy). Willowtree lives in rural Australia (strangely considered the outback by a few of his readers), and he has inspired me to post about my grocery items. This is because he recently posted two rather entertaining pieces about groceries – part one is here. And part two is here.
So this one’s for you, Willowtree.
Today I toddled off to the local supermarket to get some groceries. My local is called ‘MegaMarket’ and, like all supermarkets in Kyiv, it sells a random collection of goods. Whatever you want to buy is not there. What you don’t want, is. For example, I might be looking for brown sugar, or cornflour. Not there. But if I want four aisles of Russian chocolate, I have it. Yum (err, not).
Or three aisles of vodka. Two aisles of beer. One of juice. One of really bad Crimean wine and champagne. Do you get the idea that Ukrainians don’t mind a bit of a tipple? Well, you’re right.
Really, it’s not too hard to shop in Ukraine. Even if you can’t understand the writing on pack, you can either see the product itself or a slightly representative picture on pack. Personally I sure can’t tell from reading the label, because most labels are in Ukrainian. Never mind that most people speak Russian in this part of the country.
And, instead of stocking a range of goods, the store will only offer one good, in one brand. You want canned corn? You have to buy Bonnedelle. End of story. Instant noodles? Big Ben. Cornflakes? Nestle all the way, baby!
MegaMarket’s range changes from week to week, so if I see something I like (like Heinz Baked Beans), I buy in bulk as there’s every chance they will disappear within the week and not return for three years.
So. Today’s shop was only a small shop. I purchased the following groceries for the royal sum of 70 gryvnias, or $US14.
Here’s what you get for $14 in Kyiv:
Now, I could translate for you. I really could… if I was learning Ukrainian. But, as I mentioned before, in that cruel twist of fate, everyone in this town speaks Russian, but not one sign or label is written in Russian. So not only is Russian a bloody hard language, but I can’t even soak it up via osmosis.
Let’s look at some of these items a little closer. Firstly, the mushrooms. By the time I left Sydney, mushrooms were retailing for $8.99 (aussie) a kilo.
In Kyiv, these babies retail for $US3 per kilo. Yes, some people do choose to steer clear of mushies in Ukraine, as mushrooms (and berries) absorb a lot of radiation. But I’m putting my faith in MegaMarket not to sell me Chernobyl mushies.
Next the carrots. This ubiquitous root vegie sells here for 50 cents per kilo. What a bargain! At that price, they sometimes come dirty, but I can live with that. I’ve eaten so many carrots in Ukraine my skin is turning orange. And I can see in the dark.
The price here -1.78 gryvnias – is about 35 cents.
Next we have some delicious chips. The brand name is ‘Lyuks’. I’m not sure what that means, but the flavour is cheese and I trust this brand because it’s a Kraft brand. I figure that means no MSG and a certain level of quality assurance.
You can also see my Gallina Blanca pasta sneaking a peak in there, and again below, along with my ‘toonets’, or tuna.
I don’t usually eat much canned fish, but I figure: when you can’t trust the meat, or the butcher of the meat, you can always trust fish in a can. This tuna cost about $US1 per can, and comes in springwater. Oh, no, make that simply, water.
Now. Thank God for globalisation, without which, I wouldn’t be able to bring you the worthy Snickers Bar and Mars Bar.
Pictured here is part of my Mars Bar Max, and the side of the Snickers packaging. The packaging pictured reads:
What it means, I have no idea. Something about Snickers, I guess… “Eat me, I’m delicious, I’ll make you strong and muscly BUT only if you go to the gym and work me off”. Etc.
Last but by no means least is the beer.
This brand of beer is called Chernigivskye (in Ukrainian it’s Chernihivske). It’s made in the town of Chernihiv, about 200kms from Kyiv. This is the beer my body rejects the least (no headaches, not too many evil hangovers), so it’s quickly become my favoured (but by no means favourite) beer brand.
What you see pictured here is one litre of beer, packaged in a plastic bottle. I purchased two litres of beer, which cost me $US1.20. What a perfect price for beer, no?
Now, I would love to end with a whiz bang photo of me combining all the items above into some delicious gourmet meal, but that’s not going to happen. Firstly, combining the above ingredients would create a meal of sludge that tastes like sludge. Secondly, I’m not that energetic.
And as for the fallout of today’s grocery shop: I’m already kicking myself cause I bought apple and carrot juice instead of just apple. Last week I bought peach juice instead of apple.
Damn me not looking at the pictures properly. I think I need to take a five year old shopping with me next time, their powers of observation are far more sharply honed than mine.
PS Just looking at the vegie labels, I think they might be in Russian, but it’s hard to tell because the printer has printed the letters crap. Not that you really care, do you?