One thing I love about travelling is the amazing variety of food and drink available from country to country. The contrast in things like alcohol, snacks, soft drinks and toys among heaps of other items out there between say, France and Sweden is incredible, and totally rocks my socks.
A lot can be said about the eating and drinking culture of a country by what they stock in their shops and supermarkets. Here are a few examples I discovered across the world that exemplify this.
What could make transiting easier in a busy train station, one which is at the heart of European rail travel between cities like London, Paris and Amsterdam, than a MASSIVE self service vending machine.
I spotted this beast in Brussels Midi station on a (totally unplanned, our car there broke down!) trip by train from Bruges to Amsterdam.
You can get yourself everything from orange juice or chocolate, to disposable cameras and headphones, making stocking up for the journey easier and more comfortable.
80’s Pop Culture
Who wouldn’t want to know where you could get 99 Luftballons in Germany?
Unfortunately, the bag for sale in this Berlin supermarket was short 79 luftballons. 😛
Wherever you go, it’s a dead-set certainty that you’ll come across the local chocolate variety.
The Selecta vending machines dotted all over metro station platforms in cities like Berlin, Paris, and Milan are your best bet for sampling the country’s local milky fare. Here’s a few I snapped up in Stockholm.
I always get a kick out of brand names that sound weird in English.
In addition to chocolate, a lot of countries also have their own baked delights on offer. Another speciality found in train station vending machines, this time in France, are Madeleines.
Kind of like a sponge cake, they come in a pack of six and hail from the Lorraine region in north-eastern France.
Another one spotted in France, this time in Paris, is the Macaron (or macaroon). I saw these mainly in the Marais area and they adorn the windows of many a patisserie. They’re a super sweet confectionary made from meringue to form a shell on the outside, and then either have a jam filling or buttercream inside between the two cookies. Guaranteed to satisfy.
Now this was something I didn’t expect, but it did make total sense after a bit. Where else but Barcelona, one of the most football mad cities on the planet, would you expect to see potato chips branded with the much regaled local team’s colours and brand.
Spotted in a convenience store in Shenzhen, China, I suppose this is a milk box, similar to the Big M like we have in Australia. What flavour it is, I have no idea. It could even be soy milk, I don’t read mandarin Chinese script, especially not at that text size. Whatever flavour it is, you bet it’s classy.
Cider is to Britain as BBQs, the beach and utes are to us in Australia, an absolute national stalwart.
It’s the drink of choice at the pub of many folk around the UK, and is perfectly suited to a warm summer day. Tesco sell cider at a fantastically low price – £10 for 8 glorious pint bottles.
I snapped this box of awesomeness up in Aviemore, Scotland and promptly constructed my own impromptu, eau naturale, fridge to cool them in, as illustrated above.
Only in America
I knew going to America would open up a whole new world of extraordinary gastronomic discovery. A trip to Safeway solidified that for me, returning to London with such items as Twizzlers, Hershey’s Chocolate, Milk Duds and Chips Ahoy. This one was a doozy however, found during breakfast in a Mariott hotel in Seattle, Washington.
It closely resembled a Bacon and Egg McMuffin, but they call it a biscuit. The “muffin” parts taste more like pancake; and to prepare this puppy you just nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds and bob’s your uncle, you’ve got a piping hot bag of cholesterol.
Next time you’re determined on fulfilling every detail of your planned itinerary, making sure you check off the “must-see” tourist attractions, take some time out to duck into a supermarket or convenience store. You’ll be surprised at what you find that’ll tell you a lot about the eating habits of locals.