Living in another country is quite the adventure. I got to “live” abroad for a few weeks, four to be exact, in Brussels, Belgium. Living abroad is probably the best adventure that one could have because any mishap that one could encounter, while stressful and hair-ripping at the time, is also full of memory and humor (post-recollection of course). It is my hopes that these small daily adventures bring some amusing insight to living in someone else’s yard. Just keep in mind that while the grass may seem greener, it most definitely still needs to be cut, and sometimes your lawnmower doesn’t want to work.Grocery Shopping Tip #1: When grocery shopping in Bruxelles (Brussels), bring your own bags.
Unless you have money to throw towards plastic bags or a new eco-friendly bag, it is highly recommended that you bring your own eco-friendly bag. Personally I think it is a great cause that champions a greener earth. You’d never find that in America because there would most likely be some union out there who will protest for the jobs of the plastic bag workers of the company that will downgrade as a result. Congress will probably then pass some bill that, similar to voting pizza as a vegetable, will promote manufacture and job security, or shall we say cash security? On that note I will hereby remind myself to step away from the political soapbox that I know almost nothing about.
Tip #2: Only buy as much as you can carry! Remember, most of you will not have a car and the store will be within walking distance. Either pump some iron before you go overseas or be prepared to take many stopping breaks. A good rule is: only fill up 1/3 of your basket cart.
The nearest grocery store to where I am staying in Kraaniem, Belgique – a suburb of Bruxelles – is Carrefour (kahr-foor, not care-four). It’s only a quick 5-to-10 minute walk, at a brisk pace nonetheless, but you can imagine what a 5lb bag of groceries will do. Not to mention, you do not want to do this while it is the dead of winter. Right now is just the beginning of the season and this lil’ ol’ Southern peach is wearing full-on winter gear. Most of those staying abroad will not have a car and be relying on public transportation or their own two feet. So bear in mind, you carry what you buy! The good thing is that it makes you mentally prepare for what you need to get. In addition, this limits you to fresh produce and meats. It also, believe it or not, helps with portion control. For additional reads, here is an interesting article on various countries that showcase a family and the amount of groceries (as well as the type of groceries) per week. It is shocking and almost disgusting to see the typical American week of groceries compared to those around the world.
Tip #3: When purchasing fresh eggs, flip the clear cartons over and/or check the eggs in the cardboard cartons — they do not wash the eggs as well as they do in the USA and sometimes there are some eggs with considerately more chicken poo than others.
On that note, if you buy eggs in Europe (at least in Bruxelles, Belgique), make sure you are scrubbing those things with soap and cool water! I didn’t realize this until I flipped over a carton to see how fresh the eggs were by looking for the speckles, and I saw one egg that looked like the chicken had diarrhea while the egg was coming out.
Tip #4: Organic is called “bio”
This is mostly for those who are only into their organic products. However, the “bio” section is completely separate from their non-bio counterparts. I did not know this. I believe the entire word in french, one of the languages spoken here in Belgium, is “biologique”.
And that is that for part one of An Atlantan in Brussels. Thank you for taking the time to read, and feel free to leave a comment! Hope to see you again soon!
A tout l’heure…
R/g, The Traveller