Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grocery Stores and Prayer Time

There a few things you should know about shopping in KSA.

1) There are grocery stores in most malls. Kingdom mall doesn't have a grocery store, so don't plan on grabbing milk or any other essentials while you are there.

2) Prayer time happens five times a day and when it starts, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING stops. A few minutes before prayer time, lights go off in the stores and gates come down. There are a few stores which allow you to continue shopping, while others shoo you out the door. They will announce the closing before they close.

When in Carrefour during that time, it was amusing to watch the mad dash the customers made to the checkout stand to purchase their food. If you time it right, you can get in just before they close, shop in peace and quiet (except get your vegetables weighed) and then finish just as the doors open.

The stores I shopped at most were Carrefour, Danube, and Tamimi. Carrefour was a French grocery store. Tamimi falls under the American Safeway brand. I assumed that Danube might be Austrian, but I can't find info about it. There are other stores of course, but these three were my favorites. Tamimi usually carries a good selection of American products at import prices. So if you are looking for an American fix, you should go there first. Carrefour usually satisfied my craving for European foods. I also got a kick out of reading the labels as they reminded me of reading labels in Sweden. Danube was always very clean and well-kept. They also had a good selection of quality dark chocolate.

One of my favorite things to get at the grocery store is cheese pizza, baked in a wood oven. Yummy!

Shopping in KSA was actually pretty painless, unless you were insistent about getting a certain ingredient. I personally learned to just go with the flow of it. I would buy the best looking produce, supplement with a little meat, mostly chicken, and make do. I guess knowing how to substitute ingredients and cook without recipes is really essential.

There are outdoor markets that you can visit. We often saw little stands on the back of trucks on the side of the road selling fresh produce and always watermelons.

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