I moved from the US to South Africa in 2020 and located many variations between the international locations’ grocery shops.Megan Gieske

  • Once I moved from the US to South Africa, I did not count on the grocery shops to be so completely different.

  • In South Africa, I weigh my very own produce earlier than I get to the register and purchase unrefrigerated eggs.

  • I also can purchase recreation meat, like ostrich and impala, in most South African grocery shops.

Once I moved from the US to South Africa, I did not count on there to be so many variations between the international locations’ grocery shops.

megan gieske infront of supermarket aisle

I might by no means heard of a few of South Africa’s hottest meals, like Mrs. Balls Chutney, earlier than I moved.Megan Gieske

Like many People from small cities, I’ve shopped on the identical grocery retailer since I used to be sufficiently small to take a seat in my mom’s cart. I do know the aisles so nicely that I might in all probability do my weekly meals run blindfolded.

Once I moved to Cape City in 2020, I anticipated the South African supermarkets to be the identical because the shops in New Jersey. Nevertheless, I realized {that a} new grocery-shopping routine was one of many many changes I needed to make after shifting to a brand new nation.

Listed here are a few of the most shocking variations between grocery shops within the US and South Africa.

In South Africa, the worldwide sections are smaller and lack numerous the meals I used to purchase in New Jersey.

food aisles in south african groceries

In my expertise, South African grocery shops do not carry elements for empanadas, tostones, or arepas.Megan Gieske

Once I lived in New Jersey, I liked cooking empanadas and tostones with my mates from Colombia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. The elements have been simple to seek out in shops like ShopRite and Weis Markets.

That is not the case in South African grocery shops. Elements for Latin or Mexican meals occupy simply a few cabinets within the worldwide part. Neglect making an attempt to make empanadas, tostones, or arepas. If I am fortunate, I can discover half a shelf of stale taco shells.

As a result of South Africa has one of many largest Indian populations exterior of India, its grocery shops have a a lot bigger number of Indian meals than the shops did in New Jersey. For instance, I should buy curries from Durban, a metropolis that is residence to South Africa’s largest Indian inhabitants.

The shops additionally carry all kinds of African meals and drinks — reminiscent of samp, that are dried corn kernels; mealie pap, a breakfast meals product of milled white corn; and Stoney, a spicy ginger ale.

Indicators in South African grocery shops have phrases in each English and Afrikaans.

sign in South african supermarket (Afrikaans)

The indicators in South African grocery shops are in Afrikaans and English.Megan Gieske

In lots of South African grocery shops, the indicators hanging above the aisles are in each English and Afrikaans, certainly one of the nation’s 11 official languages.

Often, the aspect dealing with the entrance of the shop is in English, and the aspect dealing with the again is in Afrikaans.

Eggs aren’t refrigerated in South African supermarkets.

eggs in south african supermarket

South African supermarkets do not hold their eggs within the fridge.Megan Gieske

Grocery shops within the US retailer eggs within the refrigerated part, however supermarkets in South Africa hold them at room temperature, as do many international locations in Asia and Europe.

Egg processing within the US — which includes eradicating the egg’s protecting layer by washing and drying it — makes the egg extra vulnerable to an infection from salmonella. So, US meals processing rules require that eggs are refrigerated to keep away from an infection.

In international locations that do not refrigerate eggs, the processes are completely different, and so they have their very own strategies of avoiding contamination or an infection.






The names that South Africans use for vegetables and fruit are very completely different.

tangerines in a bag

I name citrus fruits tangerines, however my associate calls them naartjies.Megan Gieske

The primary time I paged via a South African cookbook, I noticed a recipe that referred to as for 250 grams of beetroot and questioned what number of beets I wanted to purchase to get 250 grams of their roots. Little did I do know, beetroot is simply the time period South Africans use for beets.

A variety of the names that South Africans use for fruit and greens come from British English and Afrikaans. For instance, rocket means arugula, aubergine means eggplant, and courgette means zucchini.

Once I first requested my South African associate to outline naartjies, he very helpfully informed me, “They’re naartjies.” I later surmised that naartjie is the Afrikaans phrase for tangerine.

And a South African household I stayed with as soon as requested if I needed any “spanspek,” I had no concept what they have been speaking about. Once they lastly confirmed me the fruit, I shouted: “That is cantaloupe!”

Clients in South African grocery shops weigh their very own produce earlier than bringing it to the register.

weighing station in south african grocery stores

I’ve to weigh my produce earlier than testing in South Africa.Megan Gieske

In South Africa, clients weigh their very own produce themselves earlier than testing.

I used to be used to cashiers weighing my produce within the US, so the primary time I purchased contemporary fruit and greens in South Africa, I confidently arrived to the register with out weighing my gadgets forward of time.

You may think about the confusion on the cashier’s face. After having an excellent snicker, they despatched me again to weigh my produce.

Grocery supply is cheaper in South Africa than it’s within the US.

Megan Gieske infront of produce aisle

I normally get my groceries delivered in South Africa as an alternative of going to the shop myself.Megan Gieske

Most weeks, I get my groceries delivered to my home in Cape City as an alternative of training my buying abilities.

I order groceries from the Checkers grocery app and so they arrive in an hour. The supply payment solely prices 35 rand, or simply over $2. For comparability, the payment for one-hour grocery supply within the US can usually value between $4.99 and $9.99.

This reasonably priced, handy possibility saves me numerous time and helps me really feel extra comfy throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Open-air markets are extra frequent in South Africa.

Megan Gieske in open-air market

Many individuals store for spices and particular elements at open-air markets.Megan Gieske

Once I lived in my rural New Jersey hometown, I purchased numerous my contemporary produce at roadside stalls. I might get candy corn and Jersey tomatoes that have been grown on native farms.

In South Africa, there are comparable stalls exterior of main cities, like Cape City and Johannesburg. Plus, there are numerous open-air markets, that are nice locations to buy spices and different particular elements.

My associate’s dad and mom stay in an space with a big Indian neighborhood, and so they get the elements for his or her Indian recipes at each the native grocery retailer and the close by open-air markets.

They like to buy spices and poultry at open-air markets since lots of them carry a greater diversity of choices.

Grocery shops in South Africa promote recreation meat subsequent to beef, pork, poultry, and lamb.

ostrich meat in south african grocery store

South African grocery shops promote ostrich meat and venison.Megan Gieske

I might purchase ostrich meat in New Jersey, however it was thought of to be extra of a specialty meals merchandise. So I used to be stunned to seek out ostrich meat proper subsequent to hen, beef, and pork within the grocery retailer once I obtained to South Africa.

The grocery shops right here carry a variety of ostrich meat and venison — recreation meat together with impala, kudu, eland, gemsbok, springbok, blesbok, and wild boar. I can eat like a lion or a leopard simply by buying at my native grocery retailer.

Many model names are impressed by the South African bush.

Megan Gieske smiling in front of chips in south africa

A variety of the model names are impressed by the nation’s wildlife.Megan Gieske

Probably the most standard chip manufacturers in South Africa is named Simba, and every bag has a photograph of a lion on the entrance.

The model title and the chip flavors — together with Mrs. Balls Chutney, Chakalaka, Chili Biltong, and Braai Wors — are impressed by the bush, or the South African wilderness.

Clients should buy wine on the native South African grocery retailer, however not beer or liquor.

wine in south african store

I should buy wine in South African grocery shops, however not laborious liquor or beer.Megan Gieske

In South Africa, consumers can decide up a bottle of wine concurrently they purchase their meals and drinks. Nevertheless, grocery shops aren’t permitted to promote beer or liquor.

Within the US, legal guidelines on promoting alcohol in grocery shops fluctuate by state. Grocery shops in some states promote a variety of liquor, beer, and wine, however supermarkets in different states do not promote any alcohol in any respect.

The ShopRite location the place I obtained my groceries in New Jersey did not carry any alcohol. Many US supermarkets have a separate liquor retailer subsequent door.

Grocery shops’ biltong and braai choices show how a lot South Africans love their meats.

biltong sections in south africa

Biltong, or dried meat, is without doubt one of the most beloved meals in South Africa.Megan Gieske

Biltong — cured meat that, in my view, tastes much like American jerky — is so standard in South Africa that some grocery shops have complete stations devoted to it.

At a Choose n Pay close to my residence, consumers can choose their very own biltong. I am unable to think about a grocery retailer in New Jersey having a complete part dedicated to jerky.

The grocery shops right here additionally mirror South Africans’ love for a braai, which is a feast of barbecued meat cooked over wooden. Most supermarkets have pre-packaged meats, reminiscent of marinated pork chops or marinated hen kebabs, ready particularly for a braai.

Grocery shops within the US promote some barbecue gadgets and marinated meats. Nevertheless, South Africans takes their meat-cooking extra critically, and it reveals within the quantity of braai-ready meat their grocery shops promote.

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