This is how Expats shop.
We usually have to peruse multiple shops, not being able to get everything in one stop. Oh, a Giant or a Safeway would be so nice! (Or, she said confusedly, a Whole Foods! A Trader Joe's!) Actually, the other night I had a dream that a REWE (our local supermarket in Fladungen) had opened up in Priština - and it carried bacon and taco chips. My husband pointed out that other people have dreams full of symbolism and hidden meanings. What can I say, I'm a straight-forward girl.
So, you are going to the shops, as the British say. You may have a shopping list but that's mostly just a guideline. You never know what you will get and what will have mysteriously disappeared overnight. We used to buy a lot of Müller brand yogurt from Germany. Then, suddenly, there are no more Müller yogurts at any of the supermarkets in town, as if the company had suddenly decided to boycott the entire country. Odd, but normal in a frustrating way. Also a reason why meal plans don't work here.
So you enter the supermarket and then you scan the shelves. Into your basket you put the things you always buy and that are always there - pasta, tomatoes, plain yogurt, milk. But you always, always, keep your eyes open for those elusive things that pop up only sometimes. It's a bit like playing the lottery. Most of the times, you lose. But sometimes, you score big. Today, I stopped at a supermarket on the way home from bringing Alan to his first day of school. I had really only planned to pick up bread and cheese. But then, glowing in the shelves of the health section, I spotted these:
Maple syrup! And in the dairy section: Grano Padano cheese hunks! My kids love them and they are such an easy treat in the lunchboxes. But you don't get them all the time - only very occasionally. And maple syrup? This is the first time since we arrived that I saw maple syrup in a store. There were six bottles. I bought them all. This is what you do when you see something you like: you buy every single item there is. Because you might never, ever, see maple syrup again in Kosovo. Or, there might be a sudden influx and you'll see it everywhere. But the point is, you don't know, and those six bottles will be gone when you come the next time. So, not to take chances, you clear the shelf. I also found two packages of instant oatmeal that Doug likes to eat. Again, first time that I've seen this. Both the maple syrup and the oatmeal are from a Macedonian organic company, so there is a chance that there might be a steady supply now - but then, they might just close the border again like a few months ago, and then no more maple syrup!
Anyway. That's how we shop. When we see something we like, we buy it all. We're all hoarders. You should see my pantry.
Or on second thought, better not.