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When I am in a supermarket, hanging around, killing time in the queue, I like to check people out to see what they are up to. Kids often play up, causing mothers to pull their hair out; businessmen on their way home from work are made to stop off there to pick up a couple of things, which they haven’t got a clue where to track them down. They look like a ship lost at sea, going in different directions without getting anywhere.
A major difference with Supermarkets in Italy is the fresh produce. When I first came to Italy I was overwhelmed to see such enormous rounds of cheese, large legs of cured ham, gigantically-proportioned bread, and vegetables that looked almost fake due to their beautiful colourful hue. I fell in love with Italy when I stepped into a supermarket.
The downside is that people don’t help you like they do in British supermarkets. The check-out assistant will normally put everything into a fairly robust bag and not just in any way. If you have purchased frozen goods, they are generally put in the same bag. Something I heard an Italian remark about with great wonder.
The selection in both countries varies greatly, depending on the produce. The Italian supermarket confused me so much at first when I had to buy something as simple as pasta: there are so many different types. It’s very important to choose well here. However, in Britain it is very difficult to choose something as simple as bread or cereal: two things which form a staple diet in England. One other is the classic English sausage. Oh how I miss them: they are big and fat and incredibly unhealthy, I am sure. Although they are incredibly tasty.
Wine selection in Italy is also something of an art, it being essential to know something about the geography and reputation of the regions.
Beer is the choice of the Brits, which is also equally difficult to choose if you are not from the native land.
Above all supermarkets are a wonderful place for an anthropologist like myself, in both countries.
Thanks for reading.
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