I went to HEB yesterday. For those of you not Texas-centric, HEB is a grocery store, one that I used to go to in Austin that has come to Houston and has somewhat overtaken the old traditional stores that I remember, such as Randall's, Rice, Kroger, etc.
Not that you care about that, but I am a fan of HEB, let's just leave it at that. So yesterday, having already experienced Central Market (which was good, but perhaps overwhelming as it is a specialty/gourmet store and so I didn't really get a flavor of a standard, traditional grocery store) I ventured to an HEB up the road to see just HOW different an American store is from a Norwegian one.
Heh. No comparison. Night and day. Heaven and hell. Black, white. Pick a polar opposite comparison and keep going, because an American grocery store SO TOTALLY KICKS THE ASS OF A NORWEGIAN ONE IN EVERY WAY, it's not even funny. (Note: the ONE thing I would have liked to have found was Salma salmon, because it's so good you can eat it raw as sashimi. But if that is the only thing lacking, I can survive, I think.)
So there I was, rattling around this grocery store. I was just done with my workout, so I was wearing a pair of workout shorts, a ratty 'Angkor beer' t shirt I got in Cambodia, and had my hair pulled back with no makeup on. The shopping basket was huge, and I had a hard time getting used to the size of the thing, but finally managed it.
This HEB starts you off in the fruit and veg section. I knew I was in a new world of amazing when I overheard a guy on his cell phone, talking to his wife, saying "The cauliflower is literally as big as my head. Does it need to be that big?" I giggled, it was too funny. Everything was massive and fresh and cheap! I couldn't believe it! And they had all these pre-chopped veggies, ready for the cooking, my favorite being the chopped onions and cilantro (coriander) in a container, all ready to go into a soup or tacos or whatever. HEAVEN!
Onwards (after buying salads and greens and salsa and guac, OH SO HAPPY) to the meat section.
Wow. Just...wow. I am going to try to stay organic (especially with chicken) so that somewhat lessens my choice, but holy shit, the meat! While I was at the meat counter, this big burly really quite handsome guy came up next to me and we chatted while waiting for the guy behind the counter to help us. In 10 years in Norway no one ever chatted me up in a grocery store, and here I am, first time out in Houston, and I have Mr Hotness himself joking with me about the seeming obtuseness of the meat counter guy. (I saw him throughout the store, Mr Hotness, and we flirted and joked in the salsa aisle, the chip aisle and frozen section. Texans are so friendly and chatty!) Anyhow, I got myself a steak, as I was going to my brother's for a birthday party that night. I may have misjudged the size of the steak, because it came out to over a pound, a pound of perfectly marbled New York strip for 88nok (if we are comparing) and it was GORGEOUS and cooked up YUMMY.
Thence to the salsa aisle, where I nearly cried, all that tomatoey spicy goodness, and my favorite salsa of all time, Arriba, is just there, for like, two bucks, awaiting my hot little hand taking it off the shelf, caressing it, hugging it, stroking it, taking it home, to lick it off the crisp, salty tortilla chip....oh damn. Sorry. I get turned on by salsa.
It's going to take me months to get used to grocery shopping again. All the brands to learn, all the ingredients to study (avoiding hormones and antibiotics and corn syrup and trans fats, that will be a bit difficult).
I filled up that basket all the way (including a 12 pack of Rolling Rock beer, which I like, for $10, so that's like, 4 nok a bottle, or basically 12 beers for the price of one in Norway) and it cost $200 all told. That includes chicken, beef, shrimp, deli meats, 3 bottles of wine (note to Gilly: I found RIONDO! We can carry on the pink fizz tradition!), laundry detergent, my favorite Kiss My Face shower gel in Peaceful Patchouli, and so on. I figure all that stuff would have cost me around $550 in Norway, minimum.
I'm STILL a little turned on from that shopping experience. Hot guys, cheap food, hot and cold running salsa....wow.