Our (temporary) apartment in Prague is just off Old Town Square, in a narrow alley with large wooden doors on either end. After midnight, the...Read More
Grocery Shopping in Prague: A Story in Photos
Note to self: If you want to make deconstructed hamburger salad (p. 38 in Well Fed) with ground beef, it’s best to learn the Czech words for beef and pork before heading out to the Tesco to buy groceries, lest you learn, midway through cooking (thanks, translate.google.com), that the reason your “hamburger” looks so pale isn’t that Czech beef is light-colored but, rather, is because the package you thought was beef is actually pork.
mleté maso hovězí = ground beef
mleté maso vepřové = ground pork
You don’t even want to know the deliciously glutenous treats I’ve enjoyed over the past two days! (Ahem, beer.) But today we decided to hit the grocery store to see what it would maybe maybe maybe be like to be locals. It was a big adventure deciphering labels at the store, but we found most of what we needed, then settled in for an evening of one of Dave’s favorite dinner-at-home meals (the aforementioned hamburger salad) and a viewing of Bridesmaids on the laptop. It was just like at home, except through the open window we could hear tourists wending their way through the alley behind our apartment building and if I looked over my shoulder and out the window, I could see the Týn Church.
But let’s backtrack to the grocery store.
Once upon a time…
Our first challenge was understanding how to acquire a shopping cart. Turns out, to unlock it from its shopping cart brethren, you have to pop a 5-crown coin into a slot on the handle. First, we hit produce where I was happy to load up the cart with onions, garlic, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce, huge red bell peppers, a giant fennel, and cucumbers. They also had all the usual suspects: broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes… pretty much all of the stuff we buy on a regular basis.
Then we browsed the bakery — but didn’t buy anything… even though I was quite taken with pink-and-white-striped doughnuts and dark, crusty bread rolled in sesame, poppy, and caraway seeds. Moving on…
We entered the packaged food aisles and saw these:
No idea what those are… If anyone out there knows what’s in those little containers with the crazy illustrations, please share in comments!
Next up: frozen veggies. There were Mexican (Mexickà) and Chinese (Čínskà) blends, but I chose Mediterranean (zucchini, broccoli, green beans, carrots).
In the meat department, I bought a package of smoked salmon and lean ground
beef pork since it’s not grass-fed. (Although I’m indulging in paleo-verboten foods, I’m trying to minimize damage where I can.) We traveled through the Valley of Yogurt (Seriously, there were aisles and aisles of yogurt varieties), to get to the mayo display. Who knew there were so many kinds? (I do miss my blender and homemade mayo!)
Our next detour was through the canned fish section. I almost bought some Norwegian sardines, but then I realized they weren’t filleted. I talk tough, but I just can’t choke down the sardines that include head, tails, and skin. Please don’t kick me out of Paleo Club!
Dave was kind of traumatized by these cans of smoked octopus.
And this lady did not approve. Of anything.
I was delighted when we found the spices and dried herbs. They had all the essentials except cumin. (Despite packages that say “cumin” which are actually filled with caraway seeds. It’s a trick!)
After hitting the candy and potato chip aisles (ssshhhhh…), we were ready to checkout (especially since I had my newly-purchased Reisenthel shopping bag).
I said “Dobry den!” to the checkout clerk, and she launched into a verbal paragraph of Czech, which made me feel welcome and like a dumb-dumb. “Learn Czech” is on my to-do list; better get on that! (Read this for a few reasons why learning Czech seems very daunting.)
Here’s our haul, including the non-paleo treats; avert your eyes if you’re sensitive.
beef pork, smoked salmon, extra-virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, three kinds of mayo (to taste test. Verdict: none are as good as homemade; Czech brand was better than Hellman’s), dried herbs, and spices.
Onions, garlic, cabbage, fennel, zucchini, cucumbers, butter lettuce, iceberg lettuce, frozen Mediterranean veg, and red bell pepper.
Chocolate in 75% and 80%, a tiny packet of chocolate-hazelnut spread, plus Slovakian Miňonky bars, the most delicious, evil, not-dark chocolate ever, and my nemesis: flavored chips. I settled on ham & garlic and a bag with what looks like a meat-and-veg shish kebab on the front. They also had Roasted Chicken, Lemon Salt, and Cream and Onion flavors.
I stowed the groceries in our fridge, then rattled some pots and pans. First up, browning the ground
… and eventually, after much somewhat frustrating chopping on a very small cutting board and tossing the salads in a soup pot in lieu of a salad bowl, we had hamburger (porkburger?!) salad…
We also had a side of not-very-photogenic sautéed zucchini and were feeling so virtuous, we might have shared a Miňonky bar. Maybe.