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28 August 2015

Traveling, Adaptability, and Groceries

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me during our months of living out of suitcases is how amazingly adaptable we are. After all, people need the same things - a place to eat, sleep, poop and bathe. That's it. How those needs are accomplished is where things get different. But I've discovered that when you stop worrying about what your silverware looks like, you realize that if you have a fork, a spoon and a decently sharp knife, you're good. Most beds are perfectly comfortable when you're exhausted. (And you don't notice most nighttime noises or lights for the same reason.)
     Here's an example... Stan is the cook in our family. Not only does he enjoy it, he's downright good at it. But the kitchens since we left Atlanta have been challenging. In Roanoke, we had a dorm-room-style kitchen. In France, we had a kitchen the size of a large closet with steep ceilings and a laundry drying rack in the center (laundry will be its own post). Here in our short-term flat, we have a nice, but small, galley kitchen.
     Add to that, grocery shopping in Europe is downright different. There are grocery stores everywhere, but they're small set-ups where you buy the basics (amazingly, many have plenty of gluten free options). They proudly display their produce outside as enticements to draw you in.

     Inside, you're most likely to find what you need, but there won't be many choices. You know that overwhelming aisle of various toilet paper brands you're used to? I used to have melt-downs trying to decide if I need soft or two-ply or recycled or, or... Well, not here. They offer one kind, that's it. In France, it happened to be pink. And it was fine.
     I've actually been thinking about that a lot. Pardon the toilet paper analogy, but it works. In America, we have the wonderful option of choices. So many choices! But maybe that's not always such a great thing. I have wasted so much brain time on what type of toilet paper to buy. I just don't care! And yet, the American commercial engine used commercials, ads, billboards, packaging, etc. to force me to care about the silliest minutia - which brand, style, 2-ply, 3-ply. After all, when several yards of grocery store floor space and shelves upon shelves are dedicated to the various papers you use for the most base purpose, it must be important - right? Hm.
     Anyhow, you get the picture. Not having all those choices over mundane products has freed my brain to think about the choices I do care about. Like, which wine or cheese to buy.

Gruyere from an Italian vendor in Grassmarket - displayed proudly in our little short-term let kitchen, which also has a steep ceiling.
     If you want specialty items, you have to remember which stores carry what. And while there are some amazing produce stands and specialty stores like the boulangerie, fish monger, butcher, etc., the most fun shopping options are the weekend farmers markets. Here was the market in Blois:



With bubbles from the adjacent toy store!
    It's where people gather, catch up with friends, and enjoy a festival atmosphere for a day. Edinburgh has them too (more pictures soon). Between Saturday and Sunday you can find farmer's markets at Castle Terrace (the foot of the castle where J.K. Rowling's husband reportedly shops), the Grassmarket, and Broughton. On Sunday, you can find them in Stockbridge and other areas. Stockbridge and Broughton will be our closest ones.
    So rather than climb into a hot car, fight traffic, and load up with everything you might need for the apocalypse, here, you walk to a nearby specialty shop, farmers market, or small grocery store (with your own bags - they charge for them here), and you see what looks good for the next day or two.
     Last weekend, we headed to a few of the Saturday farmers markets and purchased amazingly fresh produce. Most had been grown, butchered, fermented, or aged nearby. Stan made an amazing soup with all of it in this tiny kitchen. More proof that he can create miracles in any kitchen. But truly, it's all he needed.

6 comments :

Lynne Johnson Jones said...

Watch your head, Stan. That ceiling is amazing. I agree about the outdoor markets. When we were in Spain and France and arrived in a new village that would be my first question. Jim doesn't like olives. so one day I went nuts at the olive stall. A little of this one and that one. There were so many to choose. I ate them for 2 wks. The vendors are so proud of their produce, that you only see perfect fruit or vegs. No bumps from long distance travel or storage. Each item was perfect and each vendor was proud of their products.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Indeed Lynne! We went into an organic grocery store in Blois where customers were not allowed to touch the produce. Of course, the directive was in French and I missed it. He about had a heart attack when I picked up an avocado to see how ripe it was! :) e

melinda beavers said...

I agree, our abundance of choices in the US can be detrimental to our mental health. ;)
It pains me to realize, I've forgotten so much of the daily life things, like grocery shopping. I do remember going more often and getting less (mainly because I lived with 3 there people and our storage space was limited)—but you're right, I didn't have a car and I couldn't just drive off and load up with supplies! I wasn't journaling regularly back then and I don't think blogs had hit it big yet, so it's just lost. It's really amazing how you're documenting and sharing it all. Thanks!
-m.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Melinda, I've always been a journal keeper - since long before blogs, so I love putting these posts together. I'm so glad you're enjoying them and that it's bringing up good memories for you! :) e

Gladness said...

Guess what? We have the same abundance of choices in South Africa, it's exhausting and time wasting really!
What a wonderful blog and pictures! Thank you!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Hi Gladness - I'm glad you're enjoying the read! :) e

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