Shopping in Poland is a different experience, grocery shopping that is.
The major supermarkets have of course made it here now (Tesco, E Leclerc), but the shopping experience in Poland remains slightly different.
My first reminder of the meat-eating traditions was when standing in a queue in a queue in Leclerc for frankfurters (polish ones are great, they come in clear plastic and as you boil them off in the pan, the plastic peels away…. Oh and they smell soooo good & are perfect hot with mustard) & the man in front of me spent a good while choosing 5 different types of polish ‘kielbasa’ (sausages) and not a small slice of each, oh no, whole multiple sections which would keep any wild boar party very happy!! The bread section was also larger than you’d find in most countries – ‘chleb’ (bread) is a pretty big staple part of the diet here!
The nicest part of the grocery shopping is popping into your local stores though – there is the ‘sklep miesny’ (meat shop) and the ‘sklep spozywczy’ (grocery shop) and there are normally huts set apart from the shops which are called ‘warzywniak’ (green grocer). Meat shops these days carry a lot of grocery goods as well, and they always have the all-important alcohol counters! Here you’ll find many vodka varieties, beers, liquors and more and more wine.
The grocery shops will mainly focus on food, will have a cheese counter and lots of nice chocolates sold by wieght, they also now have small home products and magazines sections for convenience.
The green grocers are great as they’re still pretty old school. The fruit & veg is mainly in wooden and plastic crates, they sell nuts & seeds as well as the must-have potatoes and apples and you’ll often find them weighing your shopping & noting it all down on a piece of paper. Love it!
It’s also normal for people to go shopping with plastic bags they’ve brought from home – often you used to have to pay for them in shops and they weren’t offered happily … now with the eco side of it all, it’s good that this tradition also helps the environment!
The last great type of shop is the ‘kiosk’. This is your general newsagent (sometimes accessed through a small window, sometimes a hut that you can actually step into), also selling things for the home & beauty like shampoo, tights & washing powder, greeting cards, cigarettes and of course newspapers & magazines. This is also your main place to buy bus/tram tickets. The ‘kiosks’ normally stand alone as a hut on the side of the pavement/road and you’ll often find them near the bus stops (very useful!).
Have a look at the kiosk below and a typical counter from the communist era grocery shop from a museum in Gdansk.
Read more about Poland, its shopping and its traditions on my website http://www.inlovewithpoland.com/info/shopping.html