Let's take a quick trip to the supermarket today! : )
I remember the scarcity of supermarkets (or any store in which you could actually handle the merchandise) in Siberia several years ago, but Ukraine is definitely up-to-date when it comes to shopping. There are membership-only warehouse stores, discount cards, coupons, shopping malls, you name it. The only thing I haven't seen so far are self-checkouts.
Of course, if you're hoping for fresh fruit and veggies, your best bet is a local farmers market.
|The year-round Central Market (open every day except Mondays)|
|Seasonal market in Freedom Square (look at the fresh fish!)|
|Lots of clothing and plants at this market. That's Derzhprom in the background.|
But- back to the supermarket!
Out of the long list of local supermarkets and grocery stores (including Billa, Rost, Klass, Daffi, Spar, Target, Silpo, ATB...), we've settled on Karavan. Billa was too pricey and unsanitary, Spar had cool but weird things -ostrich eggs, anyone?-, and ATB is always a madhouse. Karavan was the answer. It's just right; low prices and a calm atmosphere. Note: not the Karavan in the mall though! That place is like the airport on Chrismas Eve!
Shopping at Karavan is really easy. There's a bag-and-price-your-own bread section. Fruits and vegetables are all weighed and labeled by a cashier. The stock tends to be rather consistent, versus some other stores where you never know what odds-and-ends will be on the shelves. The only things that don't remind me of home are the cubby holes to store your stuff while shopping (see right) and the glowering security guards.
The chocolate aisle promises salvation for anyone with a sweet tooth. Ukraine is full of ingenious and cheap chocolate creations.
Likewise for the alcohol.
This is only a small section of the vodka aisle!
If you want something ready-to-eat, there's a deli with lots of mysterious salads and dough-y things.
I recommend the Korean carrot salad and the sirniki. The women behind the counter will even heat food up for you in the microwave! Just try to not notice that they heat it up in a plastic bag and wrap it in napkins.
Next to the deli is the raw meat counter. We're here every shopping trip to buy scraps for our ravenous cat.
|Nothing too odd today, except perhaps for the turkey necks. I've seen everything from chicken heads to cow udder.|
Onward to dairy- this usually takes several aisles in Ukraine: milk, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, tvorog, and ряженка. Remember that many of these products are sold in bags instead of boxes or jars, requiring an awkward form of storage in the fridge door.
|Milk in bags is visible on the bottom two shelves|
|Not sure what this is.... the label says "Sour milk product I run"|
And since we're still in Lent and many people are fasting, signs like these have popped up all over the store.
|все до посту = everything you need for Lent|