Adventures of deprived European difficult child in American supermarket; advice needed

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SuZir, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    difficult child is currently in USA and while he has been across the pond few times before, this time is the first he has ended up inside American supermarket. And now poor boy needs some advices (and mom too.)

    I want him to bring me that milk thingy that has most of water taken away and which is rather common ingredient in many American baking recipes. Do I want condensed or evaporated milk and what is the difference? husband wants him to bring some extremely American wing sauce, what would be like that? easy child wants to know, what is a brand of those red liquorice looking candies that in movies and tv series they always sell in movie theatres right next to cashier.

    difficult child also experienced traditional breakfast cereal aisle shock, and he wants to know how you know which brand you want to eat, when no one can never have time to taste even small part of selection. Though what I think he really wants to know is, how he can know which cereals are the worst garbage, most full of sugar, saturated fat, sodium and all kinds of artificial ingredients and least anything that could be good for human being? I have always been somewhat health concious and not too impressed on nutritional values of most breakfast cereals, and certainly not the ones my kids would like to eat. So breakfast choice in our house has always been (mostly oat) porridge, natural yoghurt and wide selection of berries and fruits. Cereal has been Sunday morning treat and kids have taken turns to choose the brand. And darn they have always been good at picking the most unhealthiest option. One of my very few triumphs in parenting is that difficult child has continued that habit (eating healthy breakfast 6 mornings a week and garbage at one) after he moved out. Now he is planning on bringing a packet or two of American cereals for himself and easy child, but is shell shocked because of the selection. I advised him to go with the same instincts as before, most colourful package is a good start, but apparently they are all colourful and have 'that kind' of pictures in them. So how can he find the most junk cereal there is?

    He also wonders why there are so many different baking mixes. Why not to bake from scratch or buy ready? What is the point in buying the dough mix? (I have to admit that I don't really get that one either.)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  2. EStephens

    EStephens New Member

    Hmmm.... Evaporated milk is milk with most of the water out of it, but you can reconstitute it with water in a pinch. Condensed milk is sweet, (super sweet) mostly used for baking and desserts. Your ingredient list should specify which it needs.
    Wing sauce would probably be Buffalo Wing sauce if he is looking for red and spicy. And Twizzlers are the red licorice usually sold at the movies. (they also make a brand called Red Vines, not as awesome in my opinion)
    Cereal is a featured on a entire isle so there are tons to choose from. We aren't big healthy cereal eaters around our place but Honey Nut Cheerios are better then most of the junk the kids think they need. Is he wanting cardboard or something kinda sweet?
    Baking mixes are so popular cause we are busy and most times you can find a cake mix for about a $1. Ok so I buy them because I am busy. We make made from scratch cakes when we have the time.
    Hope this helps.
  3. jal

    jal Member

    Looks like he should be looking for evaporated milk, Frank's Buffalo Wing Sauce, Twizzlers and any kind of cereal that has cartoon characters and chocolate on the box. LOL. Not a fan of the junk cereals myself but he could look at:

    Cocoa Puffs
    Sugar Smacks
    Fruity Pebbles
    Lucky Charms

    Although I do like to cook from scratch, the boxed mixes are great when you are in a pinch. Sometimes there's just not enough time in the day to get it all done and these are great for a quick cake, cupcakes or brownies.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Estephans gave you great advice. If he is looking for a porridge type thing, we do have oatmeal that is not just instant but you can make it in 5 minutes and put whatever you want in it. Raisins, brown sugar, butter, sugar...whatever. Greek yogurt is the best here. It has many flavors. If he wants one of the sugary cereals for his once a day one, does he like marshmallows? Lucky Charms would be good. Or Captain Crunch if he doesnt like marshmallows. I would stay away from chocolate cereal because its just plain nasty to me. We also have some very good natural cereals that are good to eat but you have to look on the very top shelf normally. They are the ones that are good for ...with no prizes in them and no fancy colors on the box to make kids want to buy them. Things like granola, and stuff I cant remember the name of.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I agree with everyone but, lol, if he is trying to just experience the decadent unhealthy dry cereal choices you can buy individual servings (small boxes) of four or six different cereals. It's been decades since I puchased them but I'm sure they are still available and likely come in larger cellophane packs now. Those were popular when multiple little kids were at home as they could "choose" (whooppee, lol) and also they could carry around a little box for snacking inside the house or out. Perfect for car trips. I'd guess that both Nabisco and Post still sell those.

    Your post made me smile this morning. Since I am not a traveler I never really thought of our supermarkets as being a tourist attraction. I'll look forward to reading about the reaction once he unpacks at home. LOL DDD
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    LOL I've never used evaporated milk to cook anything... It's always been sweetened condensed milk.

    Red licorice - Twizzlers. Red Vines are icky. Twizzlers are the only red licorice I'll eat. In any flavor... They come in others, too... Except anise, or black licorice. Blech. I adore black jelly beans though.

    Cereal - look for the most colorful picture of the cereal itself. Like Froot Loops. My kids love the rainbow rice krispies, but they get soggy too fast. I love DDD's idea of the small boxes - go for those, there's more of a choice.

    Baking mixes are mostly a convenience... I prefer from-scratch, but will use a mix if I'm in a hurry.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If you're wanting to try North American recepies with North American ingredients... tell him to get both the "evaporated" milk and the "sweetened condensed" milk - they are used for different things.

    Strawberry licorice... Twizzlers are common, we like Nibs better.

    Baking mixes... tell him to bring home an "angel food cake mix" - I'd recommend "confetti" type. (You'll need a very large, 2-part tube cake pan.) If you've ever made Angel Food Cake from scratch... you'll see why we like our mixes at least some of the time... <grin>

    Cereal... if he wants over-the-top junk-food-level cereal, try Fruit Loops or Capt'n Krunch. You don't even need milk on these... you can munch it like a snack.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Thanks for advice.

    difficult child is feed by the event he is participating for (and probably reasonably healthy, their coaches would freak out if the boys would only get junk for a week) so what he is looking are things to bring home.

    And really your supermarkets are a tourist attraction. I remember when I was in States first time, the supermarket was so huge. Same with malls, I couldn't believe my eyes. Nowadays also our supermarkets and malls are huge, but selection is always little different. And the cereal aisle is a classic. Our selection is maybe one fifth of yours in cereals at best, usually smaller (our porridge selection then again tends to be bigger.) Condensed or evaporated milk is not used here at all, then again we have very varying selection of different sour-milk and -cream products, some even don't have English names. And everything is also available lactose-free. Also the bread selection is very different (we go with much darker breads.) Food cultures differ, but because we watch so many American movies and tv shows, you kind of want to try and taste the things people eat on them.

    Okay, I get the convenience point with mixes, though we take even more short cuts. No dough mixes, we buy frozen, ready for oven things, when we are at the hurry :D
  9. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

  10. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Your post made me smile and remember something heartwarming from many years ago. by the way, everyone gave great advice and tips about our products. I'll just add that if difficult child likes yogurt, Fage is a greek brand they sell here and it goes great with nuts, fruit, etc. It's a bit thicker than most yogurts.
    Here's my share about a foreigner in an American supermarket:
    In 1979, I was quite young, just out of school and worked for a company in NYC. At the time, many Russian refugees were being sponsored to come to US if they or any of their children had specific illnesses that American hospitals were better suited to treat. I worked with a 40 y/o Russian refugee whose daughter had a kidney illness that couldn't be treated properly in Russia.(I thought 40 was old at the time!) This woman was used to bread lines and privation in Russia that we couldn't begin to imagine here unless we lived through the great Depression. She said when she walked into her first American supermarket, she was so amazed, she fell right there on the floor, like the Pope, and cried and kissed the supermarket floor and thanked God she was in a place where she could see and touch and buy and eat all the food she wanted. I've never forgotten that when I often say how I "hate" to go food shopping lol.
  11. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Its funny - reminded me when I went to London for a month on holiday. Was staying with a friends mother and everything in the council house kitchen was TINY compared what I was used to. She went to the market every day since the fridge wasn't big enough to hold hardly anything -so I said one day I would go for her, and make dinner. I was appalled at the butcher they had meat hanging in the window and it wasn't refridgerated and there were flies - ugggg . I decided to give that a pass even though I was told if it was a bit "gamey" it was still ok. Went into Tesco and bought some things for a nice salad as I wasn't going to risk getting tomaine poisoning. Got in line, paid for my items, and was standing there waiting for the bag boy. Cashier asked me If there was a problem and where my bags were..mmmmm....bags??? Learned you have to bring your own bags, and there was no bagging person LOL Jeeze, after having to buy bags, I then had to pack it and carry all that stuff uphill - no bus was available. I felt like my arms were going to fall off. No way would I do that every single day.

    You can buy single servings of cereal - I used to do that for the kids when they were small. A little more expensive that way,but they came in a package of 10, and you could open them up and put milk in and eat right out of the container. Kids thought that was so cool. Now difficult child won't eat any cereal, and his brother will only eat granola. I stick to Frosted Flakes and Cheerios, but SO buys all of that sweet stuff - not for breakfast but to munch on dry while he is watching TV LOL

    I havent been to the movies in a while, but thought the licorice was Red Vines. I don't like Twizzlers - they taste like plastic to me and no taste. We always kept a hugh carton of Red Vines in the fridge - the boys like them cold. Haven't bought any - last year they were 4.99 for that hugh container - now they are like 11.00 :(

  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Calamity, your post was caring and significant and picturesque. Since I just had my nightly Cutty I'm going to do a reverse story that can not be described that way. In 1962 my Ex and I relocated from So. Florida to the Commonwealth of Virginia to start our "new" life after college and with two babies. After a couple of months settling in our anniversary was around the corner and we decided we should get a bottle of Cutty and have a nice dinner.

    Seriously...we went to the liquor store and it was run by the Commonwealth. It was straight out of a Russian movie.
    There were no displays. There were lines of people inching forward to a stark counter quietly shufling along and then quietly saying "Cutty Sark" or "Jack Daniels" etc. When we returned to Florida after a year or so we were like the immigrant lady who fell to her knees. I know it sounds almost sacraligious but it's true. Our sense of reality was altered back in '62. AND the major corporation Christmas party was at a lovely country club but...everyone had to bring their own bottle and most of it was moonshine. Yuk! DDD
  13. If he is truly looking for a junk cereal he needs to look for one that is chocolatey, or very colourful. They are guaranteed to be full of dye, marshmallows, tons of sugar and basic junk. I buy a box of something like that once a year for my kids. Otherwise it's oatmeal (porridge), eggs, homemade smoothies, fruit or sometimes a cereal like Cheerios, Vector, or occasionally Frosted Flakes (better than some, worse than others).

    Wish him luck!!

    The box mixes are cheaper than buying ready but faster and less mess than scratch - sort of an in between option. Often you only need to add water or water and an egg.
  14. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Thank you again!

    It's also good to hear that 'those milk thingies' are used also in parts of Europe. If I like some recipes after trying (or want to try new ones), I can probably easily find an online store inside of EU to ship the product. I have given a shopping list for difficult child and told him to trust his instincts in cereal matter. He is a smart boy, I'm sure he can find the junkiest junk there is also on his own :proudmom: :bigsmile:

    difficult child has also made some new observations. I hope no one is offended, they are just his observations of differences, not meant to criticize your way of life.

    People are extremely friendly and nice and helpful everywhere. Both customer servers everywhere but also your normal people they have met.

    difficult child is also little bit intimidated by the US kids participating the same event. They are all so self-confident, professional like and well-spoken that he and his team mates feel themselves total backwood hicks and little kids next to them. I have to say that in this his observation is very true. North American kids at the same age always seem so much more polished than ours, especially in sports but also otherwise. Our boys are still all legs and arms and no brains and fidgeting and looking like deer in headlights when spoken to, while NA kids are already totally pro like.

    There are a lot of fast food available. Much, much more than we have. And it is different. Doner kebab has for some time been most popular type of fast food around here, he has not seen even one kebab place over there.

    Very few people walking around, almost no people using bicycles as a mean of transportation (very common here during the summer months.) Lots of parking places.

    Everyone drinks their coffee from paper cup. They have not yet seen a coffee shop with real coffee cups.

    Portions are big enough. At home he is always left hungry after eating at restaurant (he consumes around 5000-7000 kcal a day, so he really needs a lot of food) but US restaurants have big enough portion sizes.

    Lack of papers. Or different culture with them. Here vast majority of people orders one or more daily papers that are delivered early mornings (before 6 a.m at latest, we get ours usually around 4.30 a.m) and everyone reads their paper with their morning coffee before leaving home and articles in local paper are common chit-chat topics in work places etc. difficult child is dumbstruck that in US people actually watch TV at mornings instead and get their news that way. We do have our morning tv shows that mimic US versions, but very few actually watch them. Our TVs tend to be at living rooms (and bedrooms) and our coffee makers (and beloved morning papers) are in the kitchen and so are we at the mornings.

    He doesn't understand how people can shop in Abercrombie & Fitch stores, when they smell so bad and play so bad music (he would like the clothes though.) He and others tried and even bought something and now they are wondering how many times the clothes have to be washed to get the smell out of them. And if they do not wash them before they pack them, will all their stuff smell after the plane trip home. Now their next task is to figure how to work laundromat (and where to find unscented washing powder) to wash their new clothes.

    I have to say I'm quite happy right now. notice that I used word 'they' few times. That means difficult child has been doing things and spending his time with other boys. That is a big improvement. These type of events have always been difficult for him socially. Now it sounds like he is doing better than ever with other kids. It's just so nice he at once playing nicely with others, if you know what I mean. And he is talking to me! I think he has not been this open with me in over ten years and difference to the sullen, almost mute (if he was not lying, whining, wanting something or ranting) boy he was for example two years ago is monumental. His observations etc. may be trivial, but he is telling me about them, and that is huge for me! :bigsmile:
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love it! I would love to know what sport he plays. Trying to figure out what is going on right now in the US. Baseball, soccer? Yes...we are a friendly bunch over here. If he is in the south, we are even friendlier. He wont meet a person who wont be his friend It wouldnt surprise me if guys on the other teams wanted to exchange email addresses. That is the way we are over here. Or FB pages probably. Yes we serve huge portions, drink out of paper cups and all papers now come either on the computer or ereaders now. Few actually get a real paper anymore. Only when they want to save something in
  16. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Good grief... I'd like to be wherever he is. Not that people here aren't helpful and friendly... It's the "extremely" that I'd like to experience.

    I suspect this depends on the kids... LOL! Some are, yes.

    Can you describe what a "doner kebab" is? And, yes, we do have a lot of fast food. Most of it's not very good for you... But we're kinda lazy (in general, not everyone)... And it's fast.

    Remember that comment above about lazy? Well, that's only partially it. Stuff is just SO spread out around here...

    They exist, but we are in too much of a hurry to sit down and have a leisurely cup. Paper is the way to go for people on the go...

    Truthfully, they're too big - which is one reason why we have a problem with obesity... A 12-oz steak is common when really a serving is more like 3-6 oz.

    We get up, shower, grab a cup of coffee and drink it while we have the TV on and get dressed, makeup, etc. Due to commuting, etc. (traffic), and being up way too late the night before, we don't really have time on weekdays to read the paper - for instance, I have a very short commute compared to most of the country. I get up at 6:30 AM, shower/coffee/get dressed and am out the door by 7:10. I have to be at my desk at 7:30. A coworker lives further away and gets up every morning at 5:00, leaves her house by 6:30. (I don't know what takes so long to get ready, if I wear makeup just add 5 minutes to my routine!)

    I don't understand how people can shop there, either. Add in the fact that it is very dim so you can't see the not-so-great quality of their wares. As for the laundry detergent, he can find unscented (called "free" a lot) in the supermarket. He can get liquid or powder - depending on his preference. If he and other boys are sharing it will be more economical. Many laundromats sell single-use detergent but it's rarely unscented and is expensive that way. Tell him do NOT wash anything from Abercrombie in hot water!!!
  17. I love your sons observations! An interesting perspective from a different culture.

    Step addressed all the comments very accurately (Canada is similar to the US in so many respects). My husband gets his news from the radio in the car on the way to work, I usually get mine online while I work from my home office. He generally has a 1 to 2 hour commute each way every day (depending on where he is working that day). He is self employed and generally works in a different location every day.

    I also love that he is communicating with you about these things. It's wonderful! I am so looking forward to the day when I can regain that sort of a relationship with my difficult child. I really miss it. I can understand how that is so huge for you and I can imagine the huge smile on your face and the warmth in your heart because of it. :)
  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    husband and I have to read at least one paper every morning. For years we got the NY paper Sunday edition and read that plus the two regular Sunday editions.....obviously we didn't get much accomplished on Sundays. Alas, fewer and fewer young adults are subscribing and some established papers are closing their doors after fifty plus years of publishing. I find that really sad. Magazines are going down the tube too.

    I realize you can "get" the news on television or the internet but you rarely get both sides of the story if you are on one tv network or one site. Perhaps that is why politics has gotten so volatile. If you hear one viewpoint over and over then obviously you are less apt to explore the opposition.

    Your son could take his new clothes and drop them off at a laundry. At least where I live it's not too expensive to have others do the job and I'm sure the scent would be gone. I, too, am thrilled that your boy is opening up again. DDD
  19. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    It depends from comparison point ;) In our culture it is polite to give people space. To anyone from other cultures we are probably coming off as very rude and uncaring. If someone for example falls, we just pretend we didn't notice and only help after asked (or if person is in the shape they can't ask.) After asking we are very helpful, but to offer help would be considered almost humiliating for the one who fell (after all that would mean that someone noticed! How embarrassing!):bigsmile:

    Doner kebab is Turkish traditional way to cook meat by roasting it in vertical spit. Very similar to Greek gyro, if you are more used to that (there are some differences but similar.) Fast food doner kebab of course has about as much common with Turkish tradition as KFC extra crispy chicken breasts have with actual chicken breasts. In kebab meat itself is not bad, but the sides tend to make it very high fat, high energy, not good for you.

    Well, that kind of works if person eating it is closer to 6 and half feet tall pro athlete with high energy consuming sport :bigsmile:

    That certainly makes a difference. My commute is 20 minutes (with car) and husband less than ten. I often use bicycle during summer months (40 minutes), husband walks if he doesn't need car during the day. difficult child in fact gets faster to work by bicycle than by car (traffic lights and possibility to bike through the park.)
  20. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Errrrrm. That happens a LOT around here, too. People don't just stop. Ever. And honestly, a lot of time I don't because I've been burned before - by rude people who don't WANT my help and I was almost mugged once by a lady with a baby. So... Yeah, we ignore it. Mostly. My kids' grandma is Japanese and doesn't believe in space - makes me CRAZY. Jett is finally getting the concept of "BACK OFF"...

    YUM!!! Want!!!

    I only live 7 miles from work. My route (in a car) is:
    0.1 miles on my residential street
    0.9 miles on VERY busy surface street (won't let Jett walk across this one and he is almost 14... Only time I will is when we have 12"-15" of snow so no traffic.)
    3.5 miles on 5-lane highway (narrows to 2)
    2.5 miles on military installation main circle road (busy busy)
    Takes 10-15 minutes including ID check at gate...
    ...Or I could bike almost the same and it would take around 45 minutes due to traffic, add 2 miles of surface roads because I cannot bike on highway, and risk getting killed by inattentive drivers every 5 minutes. I drive, I get 30+ blessed extra minutes of sleep...