Did you get your free copy of Equipoise
? Today’s the last day.
Today I want to discuss grocery shopping. Yawn, right? Except if you’re doing it in another country–a country where you don’t speak the language–it becomes an adventure!
I lived here before (for 5 months last time), so I did learn a lot of food words. For example, kruh is bread. Plus, of course, bread is pretty recognizable in the store. Except I generally have little idea which specific kind of bread I’m buying. Like this, for example:
I think that first word means something like mixture, but I’m not sure. It was tasty in any case.
Sometimes I like to buy ajvar
, a relish made from roasted peppers and eggplant. It’s yummy stuff. But it also comes in a zillion varieties (some of which are quite hot), and I’m never sure which to choose. I usually grab one at random.
Even when I know the words on the package, I may remain uninformed. Like with this:
Med means honey, and cvjetni means flowers. Not too informative, really. Sometimes the packaging language I don’t understand isn’t even Croatian. They get lot of products here from Austria, so:
Okay, I do happen to know that johannisbeere means blackcurrant. And I can recognize the word in Croatian, too: crni ribiz. But sometimes I am clueless:
Is it liquid detergent or fabric softener? I don’t understand German, and the helpful Croatian sticker doesn’t really help me much either.
It’s fabric softener, by the way. Sometimes I’m confused even when there are no words at all, such as this control on my microwave:
I have no idea what the hell those symbols mean. Where should I turn the dial to nuke potatoes or warm leftovers? I dunno. And then sometimes the package is in English, which takes all the fun out of everything:
My soup even has preparation instructions in English, which is no fun at all.
Another challenge is when familiar items are packaged in ways I’ve never seen before. Like this:
Actually, mayo in a squeeze bag is a great idea. I’ve just never seen it that way in the US. And here is how one purchases toothpicks:
I know an American who bought some yogurt here. But when she opened it, she discovered it was actually sour cream. You can understand her confusion:
Yeah, that’s sour cream on the right. Fortunately, that’s a word I do know.
Some packaging is just mystifying:
Why is it important to advertise that the peas are sterilized? And you know what else? Grasak means peas and grah means beans. So which is it? Aha–this is a sneaky one. Grah means beans in Croatian but it means peas in Slovenian. Yes, this is a bilingual package again, but one that might confuse someone (like me) who speaks little Croatian and no Slovenian.
One really fun thing is discovering products we don’t have at home. Like this flavor of Colgate:
Why can’t we get this in the US? I love this flavor of toothpaste. We also can’t get this candy:
The name makes me laugh, because it’s pronounced “choke-sah.” Not the best name for a food product, is it? And bum-bum? Snort. Yes, it is actually pronounced “boom-boom” here. This chocolate has Pop Rocks in it.
Finally, look what caraway seeds are called in Croatian!
Tomorrow I’m off on a side trip to BiH–Bosnia & Herzegovina. I’ll have pics of Sarajevo and Mostar to share when I get back to Zagreb.