Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shopping Surprises

When just about everything familiar in life disappears, finding something you enjoy from home is notably more exciting.  That has been the case with a few things this week.  I’ll tell you about them.  Hold on to your seat, this is going to be a thrilling post…..

After searching in every grocery store I’ve been in since we left Kenya, I finally found canned mandarin oranges today in South Africa.  I have looked in other groceries in SA, and in every grocery I’ve come across in Lesotho and have come out without oranges every time.  Looking through my cookbooks, I have been so saddened by the number that call for these delicious little morsels wrapped in a can.  Since I had purchased a small can in Kenya, I was so irritated by the fact that SA and Lesotho hadn’t had any.  I knew it wasn’t that Africa didn’t have them.  It was just that none of the stores around here carried them.  I love them on salads and in various desserts as well as in my all-time-favorite pasta salad.  The last time I made that pasta salad, I had to substitute strawberries for oranges, which was tasty but just not the same.  There are plenty of canned fruits here like peaches, pears, apples, fruit cocktail, and even canned strawberries.  I don’t remember ever seeing canned strawberries in the US.  I guess an African who moves to the US and loves canned strawberries must be as disappointed as I was to be an American who moved to Africa and loves canned mandarin oranges.  Today, however, I was an ecstatic American in the canned fruit aisle.  And a slight bit greedy, too, as I purchased 10 cans of the things.  I didn’t take all of them, so don’t judge me.  I did exercise restraint.  But, I scooped them up while I could.  They weren’t even on the canned fruit self; instead they were on a special stand in the aisle.  It took a keen eye to spot them.  Obviously, I have that eye.  Score.

I also found pure maple syrup while in SA.  It isn’t sold at regular grocery stores but I found it in Woolworths.  It wasn’t as expensive as I was expecting.  In fact, it wasn’t much more than in the States – about $6.50 for a standard size bottle like we’d buy back home.  I actually like the fake stuff on some things but for other more special occasions, I really fancy pure maple syrup.  So, I purchased a bottle for those occasions.

Last week we found Heinz ketchup here in Maseru.  I’m not a ketchup connoisseur like my grandmother but I do like good ketchup occasionally.  The other stuff here is alright, but it is much thicker and has more vinegar or sugar or something which makes it taste too strong.  Heinz is a special treat and I like seeing it in my fridge. 

While in the grocery today almost overwhelmed with joy on account of my orange find, I also found condensed cream of chicken and mushroom soups.  I have seen cream of chicken soup already (even though it doesn’t taste the same at all) but until now, it hasn’t been the condensed kind.  Since so many recipes call for condensed soup, it is hard to substitute a non-concentrate and not turn up with an entirely too soupy mess.  It has happened a few times already.  So, stumbling across condensed soup made me an even happier woman. 

Are you seeing a theme?  The things we miss most are food items.  I can buy cheap shampoo and boring Colgate toothpaste (although I really miss my Arm & Hammer) but something about a familiar taste is so comforting.  I feel like my cooking options have expanded tremendously with just a few simple finds.  It feels nice.

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