Friday, March 4, 2016

#11 Nigeria: Food and Groceries

After 8 weeks of being here and adjusting, I would say the biggest battle for me personally has been food. I'm sure that's only because I'm the one cooking and grocery shopping, but it can be frustrating. I feel like even when I do end up getting all the correct ingredients for a recipe (which can be a hard task in and of itself), somehow it still never ends up tasting as good as it should. I never realized before now that familiar foods really can be a comfort in a place with lots of new things.

There are three types of places to get groceries here:

1. The local market: open-air, crowded, have to barter, and while you can buy lots of things there, I mostly use it for fruit
2. The import stores: very expensive, but the best place to find familiar brands, meat that is "normal" for us (like bacon, hot dogs, ham, chicken breasts) and safe to eat (most of the expats don't buy meat from the local grocery stores because it doesn't taste the same or from our experience, it has made us sick when we have eaten them), a bigger variety of cheeses (I've basically only seen cheddar at the regular store), fruit that isn't locally grown (like strawberries, grapes, peaches, etc), and ingredients that I had no idea weren't common (like sour cream).
3. Local grocery stores: these look basically like a regular American grocery stores. The main ones that people seem to shop at are called Spar and Shoprite, and I believe they're both owned by South African companies. Since South Africa is primarily British, I don't recognize many brands at those stores, but for the most part, as long as I can recognize what something is, it generally tastes the same.  I will admit, however, that when I see an American brand, I get a little excited. I don't always buy that brand, though, because those are definitely marked up in price! But I get basics like milk, bread, eggs, juice, pasta, water, cleaning supplies, etc at these stores.

About once a week, I will send my stewardess and driver out with a list to go to the local market and local stores. Then another day of the week (usually at the end of the week because that's when the shipments come in), I go to the import stores. I will admit to being very spoiled to have house help. I mean, being able to send someone to the store for me? It's awesome. Being able to leave Grace with the stewardess so I can shop alone, also awesome. I am getting familiar enough with the prices that I'll send the driver or stewardess to the local grocery stores, but since the import stores are SO pricey,  I don't feel comfortable sending my staff there. I mean, it would be a little awkward to give them the equivalent of half their monthly salary just to go to one grocery store for me.

Another thing about grocery shopping is that it takes a long time. The reason I break it up into different days is because with traffic, it can take 45 minutes just to get to one store. So, for example, a trip to and from the import stores (they are the farthest away) is usually a minimum of 2 hours. We also have a store just down the street that does have some things if you're in a pinch. Otherwise, there's no such thing as running to the store if you forget an ingredient. Also, since you have to have a driver to leave the compound, hopefully you don't need any groceries outside of their working hours!

I am getting used to the more expensive food prices here, but luckily since it's in Naira, it almost feels like monopoly money. So I honestly don't think about the price that much until I check out. And typically, every trip I make to the store ends up being around 18,000-20,000 Naira (or $60-$75, depending on the exchange rate) - more at the import stores. We definitely spend more money on groceries here than in the US, but since there isn't really much else to spend money on, I am fine with it. Besides, there isn't much of an alternative. :)

 Inside Shoprite - a more "normal" store

Dad took this during his visit. It's funny because it caught me right as I was watching the screen to pay because I can never understand them when they tell me the price :) 

The meat section of a local grocery store. haha "Lamb, Goat, Beef"!

I took this picture on my first grocery trip out. Parmesan cheese was hard to find, and when I did, this small bag was 1,700 (over $6 with the exchange rate at that time)

Almost all milk comes in these small cartons. They have a very long shelf life, only have to be in the fridge after being opened, and THANKFULLY the girls drink it just fine, but I think it's gross. I can't even stand the smell of it. It just tastes... a little too close to the cow. Bleh. 

I took this picture for Lissa because I remember she liked Orangina in France. One thing about the import stores is that the expats here are from many different countries, so we have lots of different types of imported foods. 


Carson said...

It's always so interesting to read your blog posts! Just think, in three short weeks we'll be in Nigeria seeing some of these places in person! Even if we don't do much beyond your everyday living activities, I think it will be an interesting cultural experience for Dad and me. I remember we paid lots for fruits and vegetables when we lived in Japan, but we figured that's what the COLA was for!

Lissa said...

I love me some Orangina! :) Cute pictures!