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Grocery store

I love going to the grocery store when I'm visiting somewhere else. It's full of the alien and the familiar, products I hadn't realized were stocked in this region or country, new brands, and new products. In this case, the grocery store I grew up with has been completely rebuilt. Not just remodeled - it's a whole new, much larger building. It was still part-construction site the last time I was in Des Moines. Now it's finished.

The dried fruit selection is impressive. I've never seen baby coconuts for sale before, let alone know what one would do with them. What a lovely selection of salsas! I'm luck to have a choice of two or three at the average English grocery store. The ground meat selection is superior too, with ground beef coming from a whole variety of specific cuts. Smoked pork chops sounded appealing.

Relatedly, I'm indulging in lots of "real" apple cider and am looking forward to store-bought egg nog, both favorites, and neither of which I've ever found in the UK. (I like home-made egg nog too, but it's as different from the store-bought as mac and cheese is from Kraft dinner.)

The real moment of being back here, though, was when the grocery loader was loading our bags of groceries into the back of the car, after we'd paid and gone back out into the snow. This is a store which will wheel your cart of groceries out to the loading zone and, matching number slip to cart, load them all up for you. We had a wonderfully friendly loader, social without being overbearing in the least, a little sore from yesterday's snowboarding and rueing the irony which led to weak-muscled staff assigned to car-loading duties. (The better for building up her muscles, clearly.)

The UK has all sorts of grocery delivery services, but I've never seen car-loading done at supermarkets there.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 30th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
The grocery store we shopped at in Pittsburgh for many years had a loading service as well, you just drove your car past the entrance and they'd load them in the trunk. Sadly it no longer exists; it was virtually the only independent supermarket in the area and was well ahead of its time in offering more unusual foods (this was years before Trader Joe's and Whole Foods came to Pittsburgh).

I've never seen the loading service at a UK supermarket either. But I've also never seen one where there would be a designated loading zone in the car park either.
Dec. 30th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
In other words, this may be a wholly local thing, and not American at all. (This grocery story is part of a local chain; I assume, but don't actually know, that they provide this service at all their branches.)
Dec. 30th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
marks and sparks do collect by car. if they load for you is anohter matter entirely :)
Dec. 30th, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
I have to admit I love grocery shopping. I just find it relaxing, and fun, to find new items for sale.
Dec. 30th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
How does 'real' apple cider differ from the 'unreal'? I thought apple cider in the US was simply proper pressed apple juice?
Dec. 30th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
Apple cider is indeed proper pressed apple juice, unfiltered, unsweetened, unpasteurized. (So, left for a couple of weeks, it will start to ferment.)

It doesn't get called "apple juice" as a product since "apple juice" is always filtered and sometimes sweetened (if seriously improper) and frequently pasteurized. "Real" cider is darker and cloudier and richer in flavor than apple juice.
Dec. 30th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC)
Does it taste different to the unfiltered pasteurised stuff available in the UK (eg Copella?)
Dec. 30th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
Not sure offhand (but will go read more), but "real" cider always requires refrigeration and only lasts a week or two.

Edited to add: Ah, you already noted that Copella is pasteurized, which does change flavor.

Edited at 2009-12-31 12:01 am (UTC)
Dec. 30th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure I saw eggnog in the Selfridges Food Hall during December, mainly because I thought 'ooh, I haven't seen that before'.
Dec. 31st, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Ooo. Exciting! I'm glad, and even though it'll be out of season by the time I go back, it's another incentive for having a proper look around that food hall. I was there once, earlier this month, but as it was the busiest shopping day of the year, I had no incentive to stick around and browse.
Dec. 31st, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
"I've never seen car-loading done at supermarkets there."

Why would a person want such a thing? If you're elderly or disabled I guess it would be handy but otherwise it just seems more hassle to wait on someone else to put the stuff in the car... though having stuff brought by van to the door with the online orders, *that* I like :)
Dec. 31st, 2009 05:57 am (UTC)
As marzapane observed, it's useful if you've done a really large shop, and it saves the store from having to collect abandoned trolleys from the parking lot. Anyways, given the amount of snow this area gets, cars would have to pull up at the curb of the store anyways to collect their groceries in winter. (Almost no one walks or takes public transport to get to the main shops around here; it's not designed for it.)
Dec. 31st, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
Sadly, I have never ever encountered a loading service outside our hometown. The only exception is that there is one Whole Foods in DC where they have a funny set up in which the only parking is the garage under the store and there isn't an elevator, so they send all your purchases down by dumbwaiter and someone loads it in. But I think that is more a function of architecture than civility.

Hobbitblue, it is certainly not necessary for a few bags, but it's really convenient when you've done a big shopping trip. Plus, they don't have to worry about gathering carts from the parking lot.
Dec. 31st, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
While waiting in the longest queue in the world at Waitrose Canary Wharf yesterday I noticed they have a big sign hanging over the cashier desks that says "Carry to car service available--ask cashier".
Jan. 1st, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
Winchester Tesco will do this if you ask - as I did after an op when I had trouble bending.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
Good to know!
Dec. 31st, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
My local Sainsburys (well, the one nearest where I grew up)used to offer carry to car/pack car service at Christmas, as well as pack bags service. I think it was usually the local scouts group who did it, to raise funds.
Its been a few years since I've been there at Christmas so I've no idea if they still do it.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
It's a good idea. (In this case, the service is free.)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )