Grocery shopping in Oo-kray-ii-na

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:

(I have cropped the photo very close so you’re not subjected to my landlord’s horrid taste in wallpaper. Also, I already owned the toaster. The kitchen is so small, the toaster lives on the table).

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.

grib’i shampin’on i vesov’ie

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.

morkov’ vesovaya

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.

Lyuks nizhniy sir

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:

superpitatel’niy batonchik. Ne tormozi. Snikersni. (Russian)

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.

Chernigivs’kye svitle. Zvareno v Ookraiini

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?


20 thoughts on “Grocery shopping in Oo-kray-ii-na

  1. As you know, my grocery posts are the result of a request, and frankly I couldn’t see the point, or why they were popular, now I can.

    It’s funny how stuff you’re not used to seeing is interesting, no matter how mundane it is in real life.

    The prices are great!

  2. That was actually really interesting. Makes me appreciate Australia so much more!
    Now you have given me the desire to go to Coles down the road…
    Or perhaps some strange land to take photos of groceries.

  3. I would be afraid to buy the tuna – because I would have no idea that it even says Tuna on the can. Heck it could be beetroot.

  4. Little Miss, loved the post! I totally relate to the “buying in bulk when it’s in stock” syndrome. Our tiny SuperValu in Ireland does that same thing where something’s in stock (PopTarts, for example) and then it isn’t for WEEKS! (Of course, there are more stores in the area, but mine is five minutes from the house and I’m a lazy American, what can I say!) The food stuff in so interesting! Especially the “selection” you have at your store!

  5. Now then . . . I need to say this!!
    Groceries are fine and good but let’s have some pictures of you!! So go and get it done, girl!!

  6. First, I have to thank DubYaT (that’s my nickname for WillowTree-WT) for heading me in your direction. When I havea more time, I will certainly be back to read more of your previous posts.
    Second, thank you for the giggle this morning. I love your way with words…”bit of a tipple” I think I translate that into my southern Okie as “knee walkin’ drunk.”
    “Nestle all the way baby”…conjures up memories of a commercial that went, “Nestles makes the very best….chocolate.”
    At least you didn’t confuse your juices with a mixture of prune juice. I was surprised to read on the label of beer, “cerveza”…I know what that means…”una mas cerveza, por favor.”
    Thanks for the visit today.
    I’ll certainly be back to read more Little Miss.

  7. I never knew when I began blogging over a year ago, that I would have international friends who are teaching me far more about other cultures than school ever did.

    No wonder I love to blog!

    I’m thoroughly enjoying WT’s and now your grocery posts. Much ado about nothing is capturing all our attention, lol.vuipoym

  8. Hello everyone. My server has been holding its breath all day today and, only now, exhaled and got its pulse back.

    Dear vykorn. Yes, the nearest megamarket to town is the one near butterfly deluxe. The only other supermarket in tarrrn is the Furshet.

    Dear willowtree. I am glad you find my groceries interesting. I find your grocery posts very entertaining too. And not a little funny. I’ll bet all your milk cost more than all my groceries – food here is nicely priced.

    Dear samantha louise. If you go to coles, please please please buy me some vegemite. Just in case enid doesn’t come good on her promise to bring me some pommy vegemite from Tescos.

    Dear beccy. A litre of vodka is a couple of bucks – crazy hey? Even Absolut, which is about $40 in Australia, is about $14 here…. Nuts! And naughty too.

    Dear Karmyn. I wouldn’t mind if it’s beetroot. If it’s anything like Willowtree’s beetroot the other day, I would lurrrve it! Mmmm mmmm.

    Dear sabrina. Howdy. Yeah I’m a lazy Aussie who is used to driving right up to the door of the shops. I’m still trying to do a weekly shop but I end up carrying home 40 kilos. I’ve never had a pop tart myself but if they scratch the same itch as Heinz Baked Beans in the morning, then I totally sympathise with you. You go buy in bulk, gal!

    Dear very nice man. You saw part of me in my Fun Monday post. That’s enough innit?? I’m really nothing more than a red bandanna wreaking havoc on a blog.

    Dear swampwitch. Hello! Thank you for your nice comment. I’ll leave my comments open to interpretation but as Aussies and Americans, we sure talk the same lingo :o) Cerveza is portugese isn’t it? And spanish. We call it Piva here, perhaps they export this reputable brand and thus is why it’s in so many lingos on the label. I hope you have a nice day!

  9. Well, I was asking because that is actually one of the nicer ones with an OK variety and wide aisles. The furshet one is 100 times worse. What I find annoying about shopping in oo-kray-ii-na are the stupid security guards everywhere. What are they exactly afraid of? That I am going to steal a carrot? Have you found that room in the back with a huge variety of wine from around the world?

  10. Dear vykorn. Actually I have, but for some reason I prefer to shop for vino at Furshet. I’m not sure, why, as MegaMarket’s selection is good. I just don’t go to the big room, always forget about it.

    I don’t like in Megamarket that they keep moving the baked beans, and it took me forever to find bay leaves – by the freezer!

    There are a lot of security guards – I got stopped at Furshet once because I had a book in my bag with a tag, but he was nice and spoke english.

  11. Why is everything written in a different language than everybody speaks? Are they sneaking stuff in under the disguise of lack of translation.

    Now don’t go getting irradiated on us just when we’re getting cozy!!!

    ha ha.. orange from the carrots.

  12. Dear pamela. Now. I may be speaking as an ill-informed non-kanuck here, but we all know how in Canada there are laws that make it compulsory for everything to be bi-lingual? (Except in Quebec, where there are laws to make everything to be French?)

    Well, in Ukraine, half the country (centre and east) speaks Russki, and half the country (the west) speaks oo-kray-ii-nski. But the government has passed laws to protect the Ukrainian language and kulcha, so, all signs must be in Oo-kray-ii-nski.

    So, in Kyiv, all the street signs are in Oo-ski, as are many adverts and food packaging. But everyone talks in Russki.

    Oh and don’t worry about me getting irradiated. My pyjamas are made of lead.

  13. Ooh, I love this post. Fabulous. I would post my groceries but everyone would immediately fall asleep and hit their heads on their monitors.

  14. Dear chrisb. Thanks! It wasn’t one of the more interesting visits to the shop, but the cyrillic writing makes things interesting.

    Dear Melissa. I wouldn’t fall asleep! I would love to see your groceries. Before Mr Moi and I came to Ukraine, we visited the UK, and the first thing I did was go to the grocery store and have a nose around. I love groceries.

  15. I loved your grocery-store tour! Very interesting. 🙂 I’m sure it must be frustrating, though, not being able to get whatever you want when you want it.

  16. yes, veggie labels are in Russian. But why don’t you switch to Ukrainian?! xexe As a Westerner, I always would encourage that. I got my husband to studying Ukrainian. He does – with a great disbelief he would ever use it outside our house…

  17. Dear zandria. Yes it’s a bit frustrating, but to be honest, Mr Moi and I ate up a storm because we left oz cause we expected things to be different here. The biggest difference is that fruit and veg is very seasonal – if you want something that’s out of season, it’s RIDICULOUSLY exxy. In Australia, we have four seasons on one continent, all year… so… we don’t even know when something’s in season or not.

    Dear olechko. You sound just like one of my Ukrainian girlfriends. She comes from a very Ukrainian speaking family, and is always trying to teach me Ukrainian! But… Russian was still handy when we went to K’stan. As for the labels, I thought they must be in Russki – Ukrainian doesn’t have the bl letter. But then, MegaMarket’s receipts for purchase are in Ukrainian! Confusing.

    BUT I do know that Ukrainian is the more beautiful sounding language 🙂

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