One of the most interesting and practical adjustments that we have made since our move has been shopping. Specifically grocery shopping. It used to be so routine for Zach and I, Sunday afternoons I would decide on my meals for the week, write up a grocery list then head off the the grocery store. I would find everything I needed at my local ( and beloved ) HEB, spend my budgeting amount without even having to calculate anymore then head back home. When I would pull into the parking garage I would give Z a call and he would come right out and help me bring the groceries up to our apartment.
I still plan out my meals but have to be very loose with them. You see the grocery stores here don’t exactly carry the same products from week to week. In fact the grocery store is nearly completely different from one trip to the next. Not only what items they have in stock but even where the items are located on the shelf! ( not to mention the items that they just don’t carry at all) I thought I was totally nuts at first but it turns out to be a normal thing and so I have had to learn to just sort of go with it.
Once I finish my intended grocery list, in stead of jumping into my car, now I literally just walk across the street to the “City Center Mall”.
And yes, the grocery store is literally INSIDE the mall. Very weird, I know.
But man what a beautiful mall it is! I don’t mind this at all. 🙂
I go up some stairs…
Across a main hall
And there it is, Carrefour! One of (if not the) biggest grocery store in Doha!
Now I related the first grocery store I went into (the Hypermarket by our old hotel) to a Super Walmart but this one is more like a Super HEB (is there such a thing?) It is definitely higher end than the other and carries everything from produce to appliances and clothes.
They also have incredible customer service here. It is almost overwhelming at times when you just want to randomly browse around.
When you walk in, you first pass a counter with tobacco products, then some premade fresh meals and as you can see here, fresh flowers.
Next, there is a counter with every kind of nut and dried fruit your heart could imagine. They are sold in bulk by weight as well as prepackaged.
Then the store opens into tons and tons of fresh produce!
Some sold by weight and some prepackaged.
Compared to American prices, these are pretty competitive. Many things are priced right about the same although certain, less popular items here are priced a little higher. Milk for example is priced higher here as well as things like maple syrup (which isn’t sold at all at Carrefour!).
They also sell more exotic things that you could never get at your local HEB. For example, banana flower. What in the world do you make with banana flower anyways?
You can get many of the same fresh herbs, even a full out plant if you are into that.
This is a perfect example of how the assortment varies from week to week. Last week, I got a whole bunch of limes and planned another recipe this week with lime as an ingredient, but low and behold, every kind of lemon you could want and not a single lime! Guess I wasn’t the only one who panned them into my menu this week!
That little green guy in the middle there is a pear! Not a lime!
Like in America, you grab plastic bags to fill with your selection of fruits and veggies. Here though, before you leave the produce area, you go up to a weighing station like this to get each bag weighed and a sticker with the price and bar code stamps on the outside. This way when you check out, it is super quick and easy.
Although they don’t have any pork, they make up for it in fresh seafood!
Don’t worry, you can also get it prestripped and cleaned!
Cream cheese was also on my list. Is Philadelphia “cheese spread” the same thing?
Not so fast, they have a whole wall of cheese spreads to choose from!
And what is Labaneh?
I am sure by this point you can imagine how lost and confused I look wandering each week at Carrefour. I am not sure if I will ever fully warm up to some of the strange things I see there.
In America you have like 37 different kinds of peanut butter, this week at Carrefour you get either chunky or creamy.
Last week they had only Nestle Tolhouse chocolate chips, this week only Hershey’s. Totally luck of the draw!
The smallest bag of sugar I could find was like 5 lb. So embarrassing to walk out of there with! But omg it was only like $2!
Finally, when you are ready to check out you go to one of the literally 75 lanes. 50 of them being open at all times making there NEVER be a line to wait in. Then, just like HEB, they will bag up your groceries into your cart for you, but beyond that, they will even unload your groceries onto the belt for you!
Here is my 3 man team of helpers lol
Then when you are all finished…comes the weirdest part.
Now of course if I had a car it could be different, I would simply take these down to it and act like a normal human. But as many of you know, Z and I opted out of the whole car situation so I take my cart and go right out into the mall.
Literally walk through the mall with a shopping cart.
Then if you recall, the grocery store is second level so I have to get on an elevator with my grocery cart.
(they have those cool grocery cart ramp like escalators too)
Then I walk out of the mall with my cart Yes! Out the front doors of the mall into a swarm of people !
I continue to go across the car drop off area, down a ramp to a sidewalk where I walk literally down the road with my groceries.
Then ACROSS AN INTERSECTION OF DOWNTOWN DOHA WITH MY FULL GROCERY CART
My most embarrassing moment
On repeat lol
Don’t believe me?
I had Z come take photos when he came to meet me today
Luckily, at this moment the cars had just cleared but normally I am walking in front of like 4 lanes of cars staring at me.
And when the sidewalk is bumpy I take it to the road.
Walking down the road with a grocery cart.
Okay then I get to our building and Zach comes to meet me and helps bring them up. (When the groceries are too much the doorman will take them up on a dolly for us)
We leave our cart on the sidewalk outside.
I know what you are thinking– I must be a horrible person to do such a thing but Carrefour actually goes around the town every evening and picks up carts from all around!
Isn’t that wild?
I just had to share. 🙂
Hope you are are having a much less embarrassing weekend than me!!
Shokran & Gig ‘Em!