As a European who has been around Asia a bit and lived in the UK, I thought I had seen a lot different of supermarket styles and weird local products. Until I got to the US a few months ago.
As I was saying in a post last year, I am a bit of a supermarket fan, probably because of my marketing background and interest in retail and food. This is the Chicago sequel to my last year post.
On my first day there, my friend took me to her local favourite in the Old Town: Plum
What an amazing first impression! Firstly, heaps and heaps of fresh and gorgeous fruits and vegetables attack your senses as you step in.
I had a particular crush on the tomatoes as you can tell.
Then you start getting a bit sceptical when you realised that a regular supermarket is equipped with THAT many protein powders and food supplements. But then again, it’s the US: make these muscles big!
And then, as you are almost out, by the check-out counter, there is a last surprise for you: bacon-flavoured chocolate. My Belgian heart had a twinge…
In fact, Plum was a bit of a paradise, especially if you compare it with the gas station stores on the highway.
There, the snack/healthy food ratio is probably 1000/1.
Not to worry, though: you will find a giant version of what Belgians know as “Bifi”, or these dry, skinny, pre-packed snack sausages. Heaven you say? Ermmmm, yes, ok. I still had none of these snacks (or suspicious oranges, for that matter, and battled with the coffee machine for 15 minutes instead).
Last but not least, I was taken to another supermarket heaven in downtown Chicago: Mariano’s
Pure bliss again this time: A 50 metre-long buffet of fresh or warm salads, meals, meats and: anything you could wish for for your take-away lunch (which is what we did), tons of fresh fruit and veg, and these mouth watering popcorn (Chicago specialty) and cakes.
I do envy my friend Camille who works around the corner! No university restaurant ever looked like that!
I think I missed out on quite a lot and will have to go back to check out Trader’s Joe, Costco or Wal-Mart.
Next time, for sure!