Nov 22, 2015

Grocery stores and show

There was more events at my office when we learned last week that Mr. C, who started about two weeks before me, was quitting. He didn't say why but clearly both sides were unhappy with the way things were going.  While he did know a lot about drawing details, his computer skills were so lacking it was sometimes astonishing. I mean, autoCAD type programs have been widespread for nearly 30 years, and it is evident he has nearly never used them.

Friday, work was not so bad although I was jumping around between a few projects before heading back to Stuttgart a little after 4. I work a 40 hour week, nominally, often 42 or 43. At my last office, I was working at minimum 42-45 hours. On a weekly basis, there is not so much difference, but when you are free in the city at 4pm on a Friday, and no one will expect you in the office on the weekend, this is a great feeling.

Friday afternoon, I bought a ton of food, mostly vegetables, from Edeka.

Grocery shopping in Stuttgart is really different from the US. The first difference is that they are a lot smaller and there is a lot more of them. But they are also nearly invisible. When I first arrived, I thought, where are the grocery stores? I was looking for big signs, parking garages, expenses of glass, shopping carts outside. In the city, the grocery stores are tucked into ground floors or basements. You have to really search for signs among all the other building inhabitants.  I still stumble across grocery stores I haven't seen before, in the tiny area that is central Stuttgart.

From my apartment, for example, within a 15 minute walk, I can think of seven grocery stores, not even including the tiny stores which only sell produce or ethnic food markets.

In the US, a grocery store's quality, selection, and prices are all closely tied to the neighborhood income. Even in the same chain, like Bashas or Safeway, it's astoundingly separated by the targeted class. You have at the end a gradient of probably ten distinct grades of grocery stores, from the tiny malt liquor convenience store grocery with a few canned goods and Rainbow bread in the most desperate parts of town, all the way to the gourmet grocery with polished finishes, a caviar section, sushi grade fish, and imported Swiss muslei.

In Stuttgart, there are two types: regular and discount. These are spread over the same area, distributed evenly, and often enough across the street from one another. The discount chains are about 30-50% cheaper than the regular, but with less selection and quality. But given the limited selection at ALL grocery stores here, it doesn't feel so constricting. The service is about the same at both: straightforward and brisk.

Anyway, Saturday I made sopa de Lima and we invited people over for S'mores and hot whisky drinks. We had a little fire on our terrace and it was nice but cold. Woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow, the first of the season in Stuttgart. Gonna be cold cold cold from here on in.
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