I think I utterly confused a few folks last Friday while working on this story. The looks on the faces of the local supermarket customers asked “Why is this really tall white girl taking pictures of our corn flakes?” I smiled and nodded and tried to act as though I was a professional and this was completely normal. A writer’s got stories to tell and stories need pictures. So I set aside my self-consciousness to introduce the world to our Pick-N-Pay supermarket.
I grabbed a cart on the way in. The carts, called trolleys, are not the mammoths from home that can flatten small children. These are much daintier and more practical. Whoever decided to make trolleys simply double-decker basket holders was a genius.
First stop is always the produce, as it is in many food shops. One will find the usual fare; squash, taters, apples. But nowhere else have I seen robot peppers.
It took some brain power to figure out this moniker. Then I remembered that in South African English, traffic lights are called robots, supposedly because they are the robotic form of policemen who used to direct traffic. In any case, I find them quite entertaining.
Another South African vegetable specialty are baby marrows.
You say they look like zucchinis. Yes, yes they do. They are zucchinis. South Africans, however, prefer their zucchinis to be miniature and so harvest them early and call them something no one else does (except, you know, Namibians). It doesn’t affect the tenderness or flavor, nor have I found any other reason to do this. Nor do I know what a marrow is.
After the produce comes the meat. I never spend much time in this section. But it also has some regional flair. Boerewors.
Into the packaged foods next. First aisle: jams, jellies, Nutella (even in Namibia), and just below that, the fish paste.
One even has multiple fish paste options. Anchovies, unidentified, or tomato flavored unidentified. I have to try it before I can say anything but it’s said to be a popular breakfast smear. Available online for South African expats worldwide.
One will be hard-pressed to find a bakery or sandwich shop in this country that does not offer broetchens, German “little breads”.
I regret to report that the Namibian markets have been corrupted by American corporations. Shelves are stuffed with such products as Kellogg’s corn flakes, Doritos, Coca-Cola, Tampax tampons, and Colgate toothpaste, of which there was enough to paste our town’s teeth for years.
Then, you’ve got your chunks of dog which never cease to amuse me. Note that any size dog can be a cannibal.
In the end, I will embrace all of Pick-N-Pay’s wide variety of products and cultures represented, and I’ll make an effort to try those still foreign to me just as long as they continue to carry my one trip-to-town treat, the all-important, ever-delicious cheese flavored maize snacks.