Saturday, January 29, 2011

Making the rounds on Saturday

The weekend starts busy in Maastricht.  In much of the Netherlands, stores are closed all day Sunday and at least half of Monday, so a lot gets pushed into Saturday.  One of the first lessons that I learned on moving to Arnhem in 2006 was that if I didn’t have food in the ‘fridge on Saturday night, I wouldn’t eat until Monday evening.

So, Saturday is the day to take the big green shopping bag and head forth.  Usually the first stop is at the recycle bins, sorting the week’s bottles, tins (blik), plastics (kunststof) and papers into their separate slots.

Grocery shopping is an extended process.   Depending on whether I’m in an upscale or discount mood, I head to the Albert Heijn or Jumbo (respectively) to prowl for meats, dairy, and staples.  The grouping of things varies from store to store and tends to be different, both in logic and allocation, to what I grew up with.  So it’s up and down each aisle, reading ingredients, comparing prices, making notes before checking everything off the list.  In the beginning, this could easily take an hour or two as I struggled with the language, but a bit of reading skill and confidence puts me through to the checkout in half an hour.

Fruits and vegetables come from the Green Shop or from the market stalls in Markt Square. DSC00298 There’s usually a crowd of shoppers, all waving to attract a clerk, then calling out a rapid list of produce.  I’m always surprised when six of seven items come to less than ten euros: it seems like the volume should cost more.  I haven’t gotten into the habit of doing breads, eggs, and fish the same way, although lots of folks do their entire shopping at the market.

Saline, aspirin, toothbrush, vitamins from the Kruidvat

For some reason, this is always the hardest store to find anything.


Valentine’s is coming, so there are chocolates to buy from the confectioner past the Vrijthof. Abbing-Nolle is a small, family owned shoppe that makes its chocolates in the back in amazing Belgian tradition.  The owner always explains how long he’s been making them, what the various types are, and how he only accepts cash (debit cards and web sites are not on his radar): there’s a focus in that which leads to great chocolates.

Another stop to get Turkish tobacco (my daughter’s water pipe) from the sigarenwinkel (Tobachoes according to the sign).

…then cards and mailing boxes from the postkantoor (who is technically closed, but happy to make a late afternoon sale in cash).

Valentines is checked off.


  A copy of  The Sun Also Rises from the Selexyz; my New Year’s resolution is to read something besides The Economist.

The bike generator will have to wait.

Everything gets secreted away into the big green bag, growing ever-heavier as I make my rounds.  With the list exhausted (and me getting there), there’s time for a wafel and a koffie before dragging everything home to stock the ‘fridge and sort receipts.

‘Not the fastest way to do things: a Safeway or Tesco would likely have all these items in one stop.  But part of the charm of city life is the Saturday morning hustle, almost a treasure hunt, a social routine, and a nice change of pace from the weekday workdays.


Textual Healer said...

Ah yes the weekly shop. I should blog about mine sometime - as I live 100 metre from the market square where they have a twice weekly market. One great joy is that we do now have (four hour) Sunday opening in Wageningen. Its a relief to be able to top up on things you have forgotten orrun out of - or just get in some fresh produce if you have been away all week(end) and just got back on Sunday afternoon. It feels like it is the busiest day of the week at Albert Hijn's- and it is a very different client mix - nearly everybody with hand baskets instead of trolleys. Its also a great single shoppers paradise - far less family shoppers there and far more singles.

Dave Hampton said...

I need to do more at the market and less at the AH. I pick up one's and two's of vegetables and fruits, knowing that the things outside are probably fresher and less processed. The fish and meats look more questionable though (I'm going lighter on these since New Year's anyway). Bread is a toss-up - some of our craft bakeries are really good. Amazing that they relaxed the Sunday rule up there.