You know you’re in a Saudi grocery store when…

No this won’t be a top 10 list, just a list of things Ive noticed about grocery stores and what they stock here in KSA which are unique to KSA.

-Grocery stores are usually located within IN malls! So not only can you go to the mall for shopping and family recreation time you can also get a weeks groceries!

-There is an entire aisle devoted to dried whole milk and Long-Life milk! In the US it is next to impossible to find dried whole-fat milk (outside of an “ethnic” grocery store), all most grocery stores stock is nasty dried skim milk powder.

-There is a huge section devoted to rusks! I still have’nt the foggiest clue what rusks are but they are like dried chunks of bread. Anyone know what they are used for?

-Indonesian-style ramen is king! Particularly IndoMie Mie Goreng and it’s knock off-Toya. Saudi’s buy Indonesian-style ramen by the giganto-box full and there are always sales of 40-60 package boxes for 20-40 riyals!! yeah it’s good stuff but wow…how much do Saudi’s normally eat each week?

-You can snack and eat while you shop. It’s perfectly acceptable to open up food and eat it or give it to you’re kids as you shop…of course you gotta pay for it!

-When you check out the bagger will rush over to un-pack you’re trolly and load everything on the belt and then someone else rushes over to help you take everything to you’re car (if you use their services…gotta tip!)

-Sometimes a charity “tax” is added to your bill…and sometimes not! Hmmm…

-If the cashier lacks small change you get a thing of gum instead or…or a 1 riyal bill back.

-You can’t take bags from other stores into the GS…everyplace requires you to do a bag check while you shop!

-Baggers will pack 1 or 2 items per plastic bag! Talk about plastic wastage and/or making life difficult if you shop using a compound bus!

Hmm…what else? Im sure I’ll think of more!


6 thoughts on “You know you’re in a Saudi grocery store when…

  1. Salaams.

    “-There is a huge section devoted to rusks! I still have’nt the foggiest clue what rusks are but they are like dried chunks of bread. Anyone know what they are used for?”

    Rusk is a dutch bread. They eat it at breakfast the way U.S. folks eat common toast. Butter, fruit spread, whatever. My mom used to buy the Beschuitje kind to take with us when we had camping trips because it stays “fresh” for a good time (since it’s basically stale to begin with) and holds up well to a trip on the motorcycles (my parents both drove and most of our numerous camping trips each summer were with their Christian biker group).

  2. Egyptians also give candy or something back as change sometimes. So weird! lol.

    About opening things, I sometimes do that at the store here in Canada. For juices only though because I’m just too shy to start eating my ice cream or chips or something. I’m sure it’s acceptable, just not considered normal. :p

  3. Rusks are, from what little I know, a good morning thing to have with coffee or tea. You can dunk them, or you can spread on some butter and jam. I have no idea why they are popular, maybe it stems from a way to preserve bread (dried, it can’t get moldy?). Or maybe it’s the crunch…. Should be crunchy not teeth breaking.
    You kind of get used to them. I enjoyed them in Italy. I love the pakistani cake rusks, which are sweet, but many rusks are just bread…

    I wish US supermarkets sold whole milk powder. Skim milk powder must be a “waste” product, leftover from selling the cream…Why skim? Why non-fat??
    I also developed a taste for parmalait milk, the boxed milk, in Italy.

    I love grocery stores in all their forms and ethnicities!

  4. Ahh the days of long life milk lol. I actually cant stand the stuff! I always know when I taste it… but I guess if you’ve grown up on it you get used to it?

  5. I think the reason why these dried and long-life foods are so popular there, is the climate. Its similar in Sudan as well. Although most Saudis would have refrigeration, I have noticed in Saudi a lot of the working and lower-middle class homes do not have A/C in the kitchen and as such the fridge doesn’t work terribly well, so fresh produce and milk goes off too quickly. I think this is why laban (buttermilk) is popular also; as it is already soured it can survive fluctuations in temperature for a few days. Whole milk powder works a whole lot better in cooking, tea/coffee etc than skimmed; which tends to seperate. Also I have noticed that bread goes stale incredibly quickly in that environment; so probably a reason for the rusks, we call them crispbreads or ‘french toasts’ over here (UK), what you call french toast is eggy bread for us and rusks are for babies :D. When we went to Saudi we shopped at the local neighbourhood supermarket; it was a cross between a ‘corner shop’ we’d get here and a dollar/pound store, they had very little in the way of fresh fruit and veggies and the vast majority of what they sold was tinned, in a packet or box. That particular store had one whole aisle of different types of tomato puree and tinned tomatoes and it wasn’t a big store. The only cleaning products they sold were CIF/JIF scouring powder (I have no idea why that stuff is so popular, its lethal!), various varieties of extra strong biological washing powder and fabric conditioner (so strongly fragranced dh’s thawb he wore there still smells of it three years later; I kid ye not), various varieties of clorox and vanish and some cheapo brand washing up liquid. On the plus side they had great kitchen equipment, utensils, pots and pans et al that were so cheap that we bought quite a few things just to use there and then gave them to dh’s relatives over there, amusingly and ironically a lot of those were made in the UK (all our stuff is made in China mwahahaahaha)

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