Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vegetable Wars and Kikiriki. Grocery Buying in a Foreign Land.

July 27, 2013
West End of Korcula, Croatia

 42 55 N
016 40 E

Shopping for food in a foreign country is always extra fun.  Here is a sample of our grocery receipt from the Tommy's store in Zadar.  A few items are easy: eg. Nescafe, Lowenbrau and penne.  How about Rajcica Domaca.  And how is THAT different from Rajcica Grappo?

We found ourselves stumped trying to figure out why we had purchased 250 grams of Kikiriki.  Our dilemma was not helped by our lack of understanding of the nature of a kiki or a riki or whatever.

Too often in a foreign country you find yourself buying cans of something you hope is corn, or tomatoes.  Sometimes the labels contain pictures of the canned items which defy understanding.  

One night we ate stewed vile things on noodles having completely misunderstood what we thought was a can of crushed tomatoes for our spaghetti.  

It is part of the fun of cruising.  

So too is adapting to local customs.  At the same Tommy's in Zadar where we acquired the kikiriki it is the custom for the deli counterperson to weigh a customer's produce for checkout.  The produce stand is right beside the deli counter.  

The afternoon we were shopping the deli woman was a bit twitchy.  At least I hope she was.  For her sake.  Connie was selecting potatoes from the meager offerings of the produce counter when the deli woman yelled, and I mean yelled "VEGETABLES!".  It was surreal.

Neither Connie nor I, who was at the time trying to buy some smoked ham from the same woman, understood.  Nothing happening on our end the slightly frustrated deli lady again yelled "VEGETABLES" and as if it were a battle cry launched herself around the deli counter and at my wife.  

The deli woman grabbed the bag of potatoes held by my wife.  Connie, the wife, did not let go.  The deli woman pulled.  Connie resisted.  No one was going to steal her hard won potatoes, hand picked from the pitiful offerings of the store. 

Stalemate.  Two women each holding and pulling on a poor straining plastic sack of potatoes.  Forgive me but the bag of potatoes looked a bit like a scrotum and the potatoes were at risk.  That may explain my tortured response.  I was paralyzed.

Standing at the deli counter not four feet away I was incredulous and dumfounded.  Fortunately I did not act.  Thank God for being stunned.

Slowly the two women withdrew, each in turn reducing the ferocity of their grip and force of pull.  Eventually they separated, uncomfortably.

Finally we figured out that the practice in the store was for the deli staff to weigh the produce.  The woman, I suppose, thought Connie was going to put the potatoes in her cart and try to check out, a correct assumption in fact.  The response was a bit over the top or would have been in Canada.

It was bizarre.  I still don't really have a clue about what happened.  

Thinking the events over last night while munching a handful of salted peanuts with my glass of warm Lowenbrau (we not having a fridge yet) I looked at the bag holding the nuts. "Kikiriki" it exclaimed.  

I guess I am lucky it didn't suckerpunch me.

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