Thursday, May 24, 2007

Amerikanish Berlin

You might think that I am homesick, so far away from my native land for so, so many months. I mean what's a girl to do when the local supermarket doesn't carry baking soda or cheddar cheese? But you needn't worry about me. It's all under control b/c it's Amerika-Woche (America Week) at Lidl, the local budget supermarket!

But first, I must tell you of the other extreme: European cities all seem to have these big department stores and for some reason they have food halls (ie, overpriced grocery stores). Most everyone agrees that Berlin isn't a food town, but the KDW is supposed to be this glowing exception. I had to go to the American consulate because I needed extra pages in my passport (this is, I think, my most impressive accomplishment to date, though to be honest it has mostly to do with having lived in stamp-happy Chile for a year). Side-note, the consulate is (at least temporarily, next to a circus and there a bunch of camels grazing about stinking up the American air). Also, everyone at the consulate tried to speak German to me. If American tax dollars pay your salary, and it says 'US Citizen Services" on the door to your office, please keep your Deutsch to yourself. Anyway, the consulate and the KDW are both on the west side of town, so I decided to swing by on my way home since I don't venture that way too often. Now, I tend to go in more for "ethnic" or fun specialty shops...and I knew that it would be the kind of place that has jars of jam for $15, but still... I had to go to see what I was missing. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the absurdity, the horor. Yes, uber-expensive jam and silly imported French pastries, etc. A nice, overpriced fish section (horrible monkfish flashback...) and a fun regional sausage section -- you have to love a regional sausage section, no?! But then, I came to the American section. Concord grape jam? Fancy Tex-Mex salsa? Key Lime juice? Sadly, no. The American section at the KDW, the supposed ulitmate gourmet experience in Berlin, has small tubs of crisco for 7 euros, ONE cand of old el paso refried beans for 6 euros, a single box of jello for 3 euros, a box of poptarts for 8 euros (And as I am all too aware, a euro is not the same a dollar). I could go on and on, but for god's sake, crisco is pretty much solidified liquid poison: 7 euros?! I was planning to bring mein Verliebte a special treat, but I was too appalled. I was basically frothing at the mouth and writhing around on the floor in a state of total appalledness, and all the other shoppers were oohing and ahing over the overpriced mediocre pasta, oil, herbed vinegar. It was all too much. I fled.

But then, a few weeks later, I was walking along and I went past Lidl, a grocery store that I don't usually shop in b/c it is a little gross and frighteningly cheap. I happened to notice the ads they had posted in the window, including one declaring that it is: Amerika-Woche! So, this is pretty much the funniest thing I've ever seen. First of all, everything sold is from the "McEnnedy" brand -- with a delightful red, white, and blue logo. Now, in their defence, some of the products being sold as part of "Amerika-Woche" are legit: marshmallows, peanutbutter, cornflake crumbs. Real Americans really these products. But others are just strange; is "Sandwich Sauce" something that has become a typical American food since I was last there and if so, what is it? I personally, wouldn't consider turkey curry pizza American or edible, but ??? I don't have anything against "gourmet quality" walnut oil, but I didn't know it was a typical American thing (though I guess we do grow a lot of walnuts). My favorite thing, though, is that you can buy a US mailbox! The silver kind that says US Post Marshall or something on the front and has a little red flag on the side. But the best part is that my entire shopping cart (multiple pkgs of marshmallows, peanutbutter, walnut oil, and pretty napkins for my upcoming 4th of July party cost about the same as a single can of refried beans at the KDW.

3 comments:

Salley said...

Yay! I'm so glad you started a blog. Next step, uploading photos of your berlin adventures. :)

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