ALDI La La La
I LEARNED THE IMPORTANT THINGS AT MY MOTHER’S KNEE. Unfortunately, I am currently in Ireland and my Mother’s knee was Lithuanian. That uh-oh of geography has left me in a quandary when it comes to grocery shopping in the Emerald Isle. What works in Terre Haute, Indiana (That’s French for “Don’t put the ice cream on the Hob.”) does not necessarily work in Portshannon, County Clare, Republic of Ireland.
We are staying here in this house for two weeks and since we have become accustomed to eating we must also go grocery shopping, but trying to do that in this wide spot in the road village is futile we have to saddle up the old Kia SUV and go to a wider spot in the road.
“Wider spot in the road” around here means the town of Portumna about 25 kilometers away. And what do we find there on the outskirts of town but a bright, shiny, and new ALDI store. For those of you unfamiliar with ALDI, it is a German chain that is all over Europe and is making inroads in the U.S – Terre Haute has two of them. They have discount prices and no frills.
BYOB = Bring your own bags.
Be prepared to pay to get a shopping cart. In Portumna it was 2 Euros to unlock a cart, but don’t worry – if you put the cart back where you got it you get your coin back. Think of it as a short term loan.
I learned my way around the grocery store by the time I was ten, but dropping me inside an Irish ALDI store is a challenge. There are fruits and vegetables that I have never seen before and there are familiar items with new and alien names. The staple of my diet, “Ground Beef” is “Minced Beef.” If I want to buy bacon (and who doesn’t?), I have to walk past the packages labeled simply “Bacon,” which is more like sliced ham, and look for “American Streaky Bacon.”
It goes on like that all through the store and it’s not just at ALDI stores. The same thing greets me at Tesco, Super-Value, and Dunne’s – the Big Three of Irish Food store chains. I suppose the same thing would happen if I kidnapped someone from Portshannon and dropped them, free cart in hand, in a Kroger or Safeway store. But that would be his or her problem and I am only thinking about myself.
Inside that ALDI store I think that the shelves are being stocked and tended to by Orangutans or LA Dodger fans – how else can I explain that on one aisle I found that I could buy both ice cream and tennis rackets. After a vigorous set at Wimbledon what would be more welcome than a scoop of Rocky Road? Maybe some Cheesy Chicken Goujons, Pea Puree and Oven Baked Chips?
While that may sound like a yumilicious way to prepare the pectoralis minor muscles of a chicken I will still be wandering around the store in circles looking for some Apple Sauce. No matter that the Irish have the right to run their stores as they want I still think it is wrong, wrong, wrong, to have the Apple Sauce sitting on the shelf alongside the ketchup, A-1, and Worcestershire Sauce.
It’s a fruit for God’s sake!