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Need anything at the store?

There isn’t much different happening here than back in the States. We’ve been staying home just like you . Something that is different now is the amount of time I spend at the grocery store. There isn’t a service like Shipt or Prime Fresh (to my knowledge) over here. There’s no Kroger Pick Up Line either, which I will never take for granted again. (That’s going at the top of my list of things I miss about home.) I thought for this month’s blog I would share a little about what it’s like to go grocery shopping in Korea. So, grab those reusable bags and let’s go!

We shop at a Korean grocery store that is about 15 minutes from our house. It’s about half the size of an American grocery store. The parking lot is madness. There are no barriers between lanes, and I often feel like I am easily going to hit another car in the tiny spots outlined in no particular order. Once I navigate the parking and make sure Rosie’s mask makes it out of the car, we head inside. My favorite thing about this store is the “One Stop” section. The One Stop is located at the very front of the store. This area has the majority of products I need each trip. These items are not distributed around the store like they are back home. So, I can easily pick up produce, bread, milk, eggs, and yogurt all in the One Stop section. It’s pretty genius and unwanted items that are not on my list don’t make their way into my cart. Also, it's a quick scan to find Rosie's fallen mask...somewhere on the floor in the One Stop. The American marketing strategy of spreading out the milk and the bread to opposite sides of the store is nonexistent here. I can easily get in and out of this store in 15 minutes using only this area.


Something else different is that they sell two kinds of produce. Clean and dirty. The clean produce is immaculate. The giant carrots are even pre-peeled. Everything is packaged beautifully. It sparkles and so does the price tag. Then there’s the dirty produce. It's literally still covered in dirt. This produce is piled in heaps in all their organic earthly glory. And you guessed it, it’s dirt cheap. We pick and choose items from each side. But we found that the dirty produce has a lot more flavor. For a while I worried that this is actually the produce that Koreans feed their livestock - but from all the signs - we are mostly positive it’s for humans. There is also an entire area dedicated to pre-cut veggies specific to Korean BBQ. It’s sort of like the salad bar section of the American grocery store. It’s cabbage, lettuce, onions, and mushrooms -- the main veggies used for barbecuing here. You will also see bags and bags of pre-peeled garlic, a main cooking ingredient. I bought it once but it went bad before I even used half. I guess I don’t use as much garlic as I thought. I can’t forget the bins of cabbage they sell to make kimchi. Peter Rabbit would be in heaven in these bins of cabbage leaves.

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, the fruit in Korea is incredible. It tastes like they’ve injected cane sugar directly into the pears and strawberries. Which you can buy at a premium. It’s not unusual to see 11 pears for sale for almost 50,000 won. That’s about $45 for one short of a dozen pears. And, I have never seen anyone eat a pear the way my 1 year old does. She eats everything but the stem. Olive would definitely tell you that the price is worth it, if she could talk.


If the One Stop section is my favorite, then the girls favorite is the Aquarium section. I mean the Seafood Department. This section is not for the weak of heart. It’s hard to see these creatures contained in such tight spaces waiting for consumption. For me, the bags of live Octopus get me every time. Sometimes they have a small toy ball in their bag to play with. Sometimes not. There’s small tanks of large fish, trays of clams, and an entire aisle of dried seafood. Box of dried fish heads anyone? I’ve yet to brave buying anything from this department. Maybe next year.


There's aisles of ramen, Soju (the Korean alcoholic beverage of choice), and seaweed. I have never seen so many options for seaweed in my life. To me, the Korean diet is crazy healthy and extremely fresh. Their grocery stores reflect that lifestyle. It’s a learning experience every time we shop. It’s a little peek into Korean kitchens. I’m very grateful for the opportunities we have here. And at the same time I am grateful to have access to the American grocery store on base. Because some nights you just want a box of Old El Paso tacos and Daisy Sour Cream.


Hope you enjoyed grocery shopping with me :)

Love from Korea,

Val

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You all are making so many memories! Keep posting your adventures!! We miss you!

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