Buying Groceries

Shopping in Moldova can include Heinz ketchup, Lay’s potato chips, Tide detergent, Nescafe and a Coke. Add a bag of Skittles, too, if you want.

When Champa and I shop for groceries in Ialoveni, however, we usually buy products made in Moldova or in nearby countries such as Ukraine, Russia or Romania.

We cook our own food, a mixture of Nepalese, American and Moldovan dishes. There’s no doubt we eat better than some other Peace Corps volunteers around the world, especially since we live in a small city, but we always stay within our official food budget. Our daily diet is more modest than some of these photos suggest.

The local bread comes in many forms and is cheap and delicious. Cheeses are great, too. As you see, they come in many varieties. Salami is a local favorite. We love the fresh chicken and pork, which is much tastier than our supermarkets sell back in Durham. (Yes, that’s a pig’s head in the photo.)

Moldova is famous for wine and, as I’ve noted previously, its grocery shelves are stocked with local merlots, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and more, as well as cognacs, brandies and sparkling wines. The Ialoveni Winery is just up the street from us.

Our neighborhood markets also offer cakes from local bakeries, noodles from local pasta makers, candies from local confectioners and, of course, local fruits and vegetables that will soon be abundant and delicious. No surprise, we eat a lot of rice. We also can enjoy cheeses from Holland, persimmons from Israel and beer from Germany. One block from our house is the Sandra ice cream factory, with flags from both France and Moldova.

Champa and I have become regular customers at all of Ialoveni’s grocery stores, including two Victoria Markets and a UniMarket. We also shop at the Casa Cărnii store shown above, where I shot many of the photos in this post, and at some of the kiosk shops we pass on the main street as we walk home. Local farmers and vendors sell goods along the sidewalk, too.


Just up the street is an apartment complex with a corner market where we often buy groceries. If you look carefully at the photo, to the left of the door, you’ll see it also offers an ATM machine for our bank. The “Farmacie” to the right of the door is actually a separate shop. Downstairs, by the yellow brick, is another shop, selling meat. The windows to the right are yet another shop, selling soaps and toiletries.

In other words, shopping in Ialoveni is a mixture of small grocery stores, neighborhood shops resembling bodegas and smaller shops specializing in certain kinds of products. At the other end of the spectrum is Moldova’s “super store,” Metro, which resembles Costco. We’ll visit there in a future post. Right now, I’m hungry.


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12 thoughts on “Buying Groceries”

  1. Hi Lori. Peace Corps does almost all of its banking electronically with volunteers, issuing each of them a VISA/ATM card for one of Moldova’s leading banks. The ATM machines do accept most other cards as well although they might charge a transaction fee. The exchange rate is calculated automatically and is generally fine.


  2. In my country, across the Prut River, after the 1989 turning point, Metro was the first chain offering hypermarket-like access to food and other consumer goods. Visiting Metro was (and still is) possible with a customer card, offered only to business owners and a limited number of their employees. I suspect the main reason for this is to easily create the invoice (factura fiscala) with the information from a database. However, in recent years, with the expansion of the supermarket and hypermarket retail chains from Western Europe to most of the large and medium cities, the popularity of Metro faded.

    There is an ongoing debate in some countries of Eastern Europe about the inferior quality of products sold by multinational food companies, when compared with the same products available in Western Europe. I know from personal experience this is true for vacuum-sealed packaged coffee, most of which is horrible here and good in Germany, same brand, same package. Even if we find familiar brands everywhere we go, they may not always be exactly what we expect them to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Buna ziua, Octavian. I assume “across the Prut River” means you’re writing from Romania. In any case, thanks for the comment, which I thought was very interesting. You’re right about the vacuum-sealed coffee. Some of it is good, some of it … not so much. I hope to write about Metro in the future. Mulțumesc!


  4. Thank you for writing this post: it has just the information I was looking for. Do you know if groceries in Moldova sell bags of pre-washed salad greens? I know this is a weird question but my husband and I like to travel cheap and eat salads in our hostel/hotel and the bags of salad are super helpful (and healthy!).


    1. Hello “Wife of Bath” and thanks for your message. Supermarkets in larger cities, such as the capital Chisinau, sell packaged lettuce and fresh produce. However, I have not seen bags of pre-washed salad greens that you can just open and serve. Since much of the packaged lettuce is professionally packaged, however, I wouldn’t worry much about rinsing it off and serving it. I hope you will come to Moldova and see what it has to offer. (Lots of good food besides salads!)

      Liked by 1 person

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