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Going Shopping…

June 12, 2011

The Pheebs and I had a very specific goal in mind when starting this blog – that is to give people a feel for what it’s like to live halfway around the world.  To do so, we’d have to do more than have our photo taken in front of every monument and attraction on the island – we’d have to keep a photo record of the mundane.

This is how I ended up in a grocery store with a camera.

For the record, grocery shopping  ranks with dental work on my list of fun things to do.  I didn’t like it as a kid – just ask my Mom.  Sitting in the car was more interesting than wandering aisles filled with cornflakes,  Steak-Umm and Hot Pockets.  Therefore,  the concept of me in a grocery store with a camera no less, is quite a marvel.

Please keep in mind Guam is 1600 miles from Manila, 2000 miles from Tokyo and something on the order of 6000 miles from the mainland United States.  They don’t have much of a agricultural base, so food is either shipped or flown in.   The very idea of food-from-a-distance makes being in the market interesting.

The selection is pretty good, actually.  I was surprised at the quantity of products with short shelf life on display, like bread from Washington and Canada.  It was only when one sticks one’s hand into the display that one learns the secret – 90% of perishables are shipped to the island frozen.  The back rows of bread are cold on the day the shelves are stocked.  This keeps the overall cost of food close to what we pay in Key West.

Products that have to be flown in, however, are more expensive.

The usual brands are well represented – if one wants Velveeta, it’s here, along with Capn’ Crunch and the ubiquitous Bud Light.

What struck me were the differences.

A few of these foods are identifiable by pictures on the label.  I’m sure they’re good, as most foods we’ve tried from Asia have been rather tasty.  Others are flat out unidentifiable.

It’s a UFO sighting – an unidentifiable food object.

For the most part, the meats section is comprised of large freezer cases of red meat – I’ve watched locals buy hundreds of dollars of meat – and little else save beer.  Barbeque and Bud Light are the base of the food pyramid.

The fish counter, however, is a bit different.

There are fish we consider ornamental in Key West, folks on Guam treat them as the main course.

Parrot fish are consumed with gusto here.  We’d never think to touch them for food.

My favorite part of the market, though is the Luncheon Loaf section, otherwise known as Spam.  When we re-occupied the island during WWII, decimation meant the primary source of protein had to arrive in unrefrigerated cans.  The most convenient package was that of salted pork products – Spam.  The islanders took a hankering to it, and it’s a staple to this day.

There are nine varieties of Spam on display in this slighty fuzzy photo – sorry.  My favorite presentation is Sushi Spam – slices of spam presented on fingers of rice held together by a seaweed wrap.  Very tasty.  We’ve purchased Bacon Spam, Spicy Spam and Spam and Cheese to try – one of these days.

When it’s all done, we head out for a refreshing beverage.

Pheebs likes green tea and tapioca;  I’m partial to Taro milk with pearl (tapioca).  They have this cool machine which heat seals cellophane on the cup, complete with a cute little anime character not unlike the one outside the Seoul police station.

So – yes.  Even shopping can be an adventure.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack Riepe permalink
    June 12, 2011 6:46 am

    Desr Chuck On Fleming (And Pheebs):

    I have been meaning to comment regularly on this blog… But I have started qwork on another book and I am mad for time and decent eyes with which to read the keyboard. I am astounded at the beauty of Guam. I was expecting an island two miles ,ong and 30 feet wide. The place is as beautiful as it is intriguing. This bit about the supemarket is fascinating too. Chuck, if you don’t mind, I will add this blog to my “other” destinations list on Twisted Roads.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep
    Twisted Roads

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 12, 2011 7:19 am

      Thank you, Jack!

      I would be truly honored to be included in in your twisted world.


  2. June 12, 2011 10:04 am

    I love shopping in foreign parts. We regularly rent cars when we travel and head staright for the local food store. I wish half the Asian weirdness would land in the Big Pine Winn Dixie one day. Oh well.
    PS I don’t see much tit and ass here and riepe is as low as you are in encouraging me to photograph waitresses assets. I doubt you’ll keep his interest for long.

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 12, 2011 1:36 pm

      When the Pheebs is not around, I tend to go on a single-food diet – after I eat everything in the refrigerator. I lost 20 lbs in Korea on a simple diet of rice – cheap and easy.

      as for da wimmen – photographing them ain’t my style. When it comes to the camera ,you’re far more brave than I. About the only woman I see thru a lens is the Pheebs.

  3. June 12, 2011 11:09 am

    Michael, Chuck is merely establishing a reader base, first.
    Once he gets the ratings, then the T&A will surely appear, in order to skyrocket this blog into the stratosphere of Google Analytics.
    That’s how I see it happening.

    Greg P. In WV, stuck in boring old Kroger…

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 12, 2011 1:46 pm

      Actually – I’m not seeking readership. At the same time, I’m interested to see if there are people who are interested in life beyond Anytown, USA. You know the place – its filled with Everystripmallstore, a famous Chain Restaurant Row and one single mundane defining characteristic – like a county seat.

      Ugh. I want to see if there are folks aware and awake – if so, they’ll find these postings.

  4. Len Bloom permalink
    June 12, 2011 3:28 pm

    Sorry to say we live in “Anytown” and any relief we can get from the mundane is welcome. Thank you for the effort it takes to bring the world to people who are interested in such things.

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 12, 2011 4:21 pm

      Len –

      My pleasure. As we get ready to go to Tokyo and Singapore, I’ve queued up more of Korea, a bit of Manila – and will likely toss in a bit of Saipan over the next week. We should be able to keep this torrid posting pace up for another month or two.

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