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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