I was having Sunday lunch with a family the other day. While feasting on some lu (beef style), a bright and very energetic 8-year-old and I were having a conversation about stores. She mentioned that she had been to America and I asked her if she had ever gone to a store there.
"Oh yes! They are so big. I walk into the store and it was very big. There was so many things. I told my aunty I want this... and this... and this..."
And as she said these words she motioned like she was grabbing items off of the shelf. She was nearly jumping out of her seat with excitement as she talked about shopping. She and I have so much in common.
I imagined her in a Target. Then I imagined myself in a Target. Because sometimes I'm a little bit selfish like that. Gimme a break. It's been awhile since I've walked through those electronic crimson doors. Oh man, Target. How I miss your sweet red bullseye and the fact that you have 20 different types of detergent. And real coffee.
But you know what? I'm okay with not having to choose from 20 different types of detergent.
In fact, shopping has become a lot easier when there is only 1 or 2 types of each product. I want to share with you 10 things that I learned while I explored one of the local falekoloas (stores) the other day. Here they are (in no particular order):
1. Flour and sugar are sold by the kilo. I still don't know exactly what a kilo is, but it seems reasonably priced at $2.00 and $2.80 respectively.
2. The Coca-Cola from Fiji is the best. It's made with real cane sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup. It tastes so so so yummy.
3. When you find something in the store that you have never seen before and you enjoy its taste, don't hestitate. Buy it. It probably won't be there the next time you go. And you may not see it again for another year.
4. Skim milk? Please. Not in Tonga. Here we have Full Cream Milk ("For delicious taste" - this is what the box says anyway). It's ultra-pasteurized and is sold in a box. It doesn't need to be refrigerated until you open it.
5. There are no onions left in Tonga. I'm fairly certain of this. Every time I walk into the falekoloa now I ask "osi onioni?" (Are the onions gone?) And the answer is always "Io!" (Yes).
6. It's better to buy Huntz Tomato Paste vs. Watties. Better flavor. Smoother texture.
7. Check your rice to make sure it isn't moldy or have bugs in it before you leave the store.
8. Ice cream for a $1.00 a cone is a steal, but you really don't need it 3 times a day (Mom, I swear this only happened once.)
9. Eggs aren't sold at the local falekoloas. You must go into town and you must be prepared to have broken eggs on the ride home. I have a 78% success rate. That's okay because I'm allergic and only occasionally use them for baking.
10. Don't bother buying cereal. It's $15-$18 a box. A BOX. And I'm not even talking the good stuff - like muesli, granola... that's even more mamafa (expensive). Figure out something else for breakfast. But if you're allergic to eggs you'll have to be even more creative.
And now you know.