When we travel, Harry loves to visit historical museums – particularly those with planes hanging from the ceiling. But I think the best way to find out about the culture of a region is to visit their grocery stores. I love going to Monoprix in France, Waitrose in England, and Lindl in Germany. There was a great store next to our hotel in Maastricht in the Netherlands and Harry will admit he enjoyed the chocolate puddings complete with whipped cream for .19 euro. There are products we don’t have here in the U.S. or they are packaged differently. Some of the European stores have refrigerated shelves where they keep the dairy products that look like regular shelves. Eggs aren’t refrigerated at all in England and in France there is more wine than soda.
But you don’t have to travel outside of the U.S. to experience different cultures. I remember when I was teaching in Arizona how the supermarkets there devoted an entire aisle to salsa. An even closer cultural phenomenon to us is the Piggly Wiggly. There are two Piggly Wigglys in Blountstown, Florida on Route 20 about 40 miles away. They are between Tallahassee and the beaches on the gulf coast so I must make a stop each time we go. There are products there that you don’t see in other stores. I always find something to buy. We stopped on the way back from Panama City on Monday. I bought some string beans to make with ham I had at home and also picked up a jar of “cranberry spread” which I had never seen before and I love cranberries. I also bought some drink mix that is iced tea/lemonade/pomengranate. That mix at Whole Foods would cost about 8 dollars but I paid $1.50. You can see in the photos here of some other unique products that I didn’t buy.
I first became aware of Piggly Wiggly in the movie, Driving Miss Daisy. Miss Daisy was a wealthy older woman in Atlanta and had a black chauffer who drove her everywhere – including the Piggly Wiggly. They are a southern tradition. I found that there is a museum in Memphis that has an historical Piggly Wiggly replica:
Maybe Harry and I can both be happy with a stop there.