07 January 2009

it's not all about the kreppa

One of my latest peeves has nothing to do with the grand sweeping global economic woes- it has to do with my grocery shopping. My local Krónan is an American-sized big-box grocery store, complete with the trolleys, the vast landscape of coolers and acres of shelving. It seems that the customer demand is not in accordance with this scale though, as evidenced by the turnover in the dairy department.

In the past month I have bought 2 kinds of cheese that expired a day after I bought them, and on an expedition for mozzarella I found that every single package they had on the shelves was expired. Now I have become diligent about checking the dates every single time I buy something, but even that is insufficient- I came home on Monday with a tub of blue cheese sauce that hadn't been sealed properly at the factory and was completely consumed by interesting fuchsia mold. A fascinating science experiment but a sore disappointment for my pepper steak that would have been so much better with a dollop.

I don't remember having this many troubles back when I lived in Boston- perhaps it was due to the dense population of the neighborhood surrounding my store, perhaps it's the super-processed nature of almost everything in the US means it is less likely to go funky. Whatever the reason, consider this a warning to any of you who are new to shopping in an Icelandic grocery store. Check those tomato packages for the one that might have split and is fuzzy, test that cucumber for soft spots, and always, always check every single expiration date.


Joy said...

it's a problem in Moscow, too, both at the small-scale neighborhood shops where you'd expect it and the big-box suburban hypermarkets where you wouldn't. I've become vigilant about the expiration dates. I'm also vigilant about choosing my own produce at small markets so that the sellers don't slyly slip a fuzzy or bruised tomato/cuke/whatever fruit or veg into my bag. So sorry about your steak! It sounds like it would have been delicious!

Julia said...

Hallo :)

I found your blog listed under your interview on 'expat interviews'. I am also from Boston (23 years old) and am in my last year of undergrad, majoring in International Affairs. Upon graduation, I would love nothing more than to visit and most likely move to Iceland, at least for a period of time. I am reading all I can get my hands on and learning as much about the culture and language as I can, but what I'm lacking are contacts, especially people who are not Iceland natives. I have some more precise questions for you..would you mind e-mailing me? julia.marinozzi@gmail.com I would really appreciate it.

sv koho said...

ECS. I wouldn't sweat food expiration dates. What's the expiration date on Icelandic society or US society for that matter? Life at the end of empire will have a lot of surprises. Good to have you back. Germany at christmas really is fine as you so elegantly stated.

ECS said...

joy: I'd say that rvk doesn't suffer so much from the fuzzy-tomato vendors, probably because we (*sigh*!) have only one farmer's market that I know of. And the steak was delicious on its own but would have been better with the sauce, of course.

julia: you can email me through my blogger profile- there's an email there if you want to ask specific questions.

sv koho: I am not in the habit of being obsessive over them but as I also mentioned, things do seem to expire more quickly here, in the "wow that is one stinky yogurt" kind of way, and not just in a "best fyrir" dates-are-past kind of way. After having one horrible cappuccino at my office by unintentionally using spoiled milk, I tend to adhere to the dates :)

SOe said...

Yes, this is sometimes a real shopping challenge :-(

Sol Connection said...

Just a tip with the mozzarella.

Buy the big icelandic one (the one in the white sausage tube), you will save money and hassle in the long run :)

If you buy it fresh, cut or grate it in to the sizes you want (i like small cubes) and then stick them in a freezer bag in the freezer. it tastes just as good when you get it out and re-use it. (leave out on bench wrapped in some foil near a warm oven, or just let defrost in the fridge slowly)

I was skeptical, but i cannot tell the different *at all* im speaking about using it in the context of pizza or otherwise cooked or melted though, if you like it raw then freezing might not be the best answer :) I got this tip from a pizza making forum from some guys that are very anal about the quality of their pizza toppings.

tsduff said...

I've missed your wonderful posts. Don't know why - haven't really been commenting much or even posting a lot since becoming unemployed. I love reading your blog as always. (Truly I would go into withdrawal shock at the cheese situation you are in)