Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Milan: Eataly and Esselunga

"Grocery shopping" in Milan - June 24-26, 2017

Although the last 4 posts chronicled my (delicious) dinners and gelato in Milan, I’d be remiss not to make one final post to show the rest of my foodie pics from that trip, mostly from two food shops I found on my perambulations around Milan. It seems too prosaic to call them mere grocery stores. Other people might shop for fashion in Milan and peruse trendy clothing boutiques, admire Italian leather shoes, drool over purses and jewelry. Me? I go for the food.

It might seem odd to take touristy pictures in grocery stores. I do it all the time when I travel. Not just because I’m weird that way (although there is that) but I like seeing what kinds of food are in the stores of different countries, how they’re presented, what the local brands are and what the differences and similarities are from what I’m used to. Even the packaging and the sizes of various foodstuffs interest me. Not to mention the prices.

Eataly was the first food store I went into.  It was like a combination of Williams Sonoma, a mini Jean Philippe Patisserie, Italian Starbucks and an uppity version of Whole Foods. In other words, I loved it. I didn’t buy anything but enjoyed wandering around – from the patisserie section with its display cases of beautiful individual desserts to the cafĂ© section with its baristas making cappuccinos, espressos and other coffees to the smallish book department to the foodstuffs. They also had a Venchi inside the Eataly - bonus. Although I didn't get a gelato while I was there. I waited until I was at the stand-alone Venchi.

I walked around in an enjoyable touristy haze up and down the aisles of Eataly. I was still jet lagged and wasn’t hungry when I was there so I didn’t buy anything but my eyes ate for me.

The Bread bakery section
Near my hotel, I also discovered Esselunga, which I found out later was an Italian store chain. I enjoyed wandering around there even more than at Eataly and ended up going back a couple of times since it became my bottled water supply. It was also almost the only store where I could find a diet Pepsi or a diet Coke. Excuse me, Coke Light. The skinny people of Milan seemed to only drink the fully leaded version of Coke and didn’t do diet soda. Eek.

I loved Esselunga and all its offerings, particularly the ones I’d never seen before, like the Nutella-stuffed “breadsticks”. I had to buy one for a Nutella-loving friend back in the States. I was sorely tempted to buy a couple of jars of the Pernigotti Gianduja – holy smokies, gianduja and the Pernigotti brand? From Italy? I finally ended up talking myself out of it because I wasn’t checking in a bag and I didn’t know if airport security would consider it a “liquid” and not allow it because it was more than 3 ounces or if US Customs would have an issue with my bringing foodstuffs back. Better to leave it safely on the store shelf than to risk seeing security toss it in the trash receptacle at the airport. I don't think my foodie-loving soul could've taken that sight.

There were many other items and brands I noticed in the store and absorbed. Too many to mention but that is part of my traveling experience to see what else is out there in the foodie sphere. There are similarities (global brands like Cadbury and Nestle) and differences (a lot more fresh produce, meats, cheeses, breads) in specialized departments.

Fresh meat and cheese

Fresh seafood
Cheese, cheese and more cheese
The one thing that did strike me as I was checking out was that all of the cashiers were seated at their cash registers rather than standing. I don't know how long their shifts are but it's probably a lot easier for them not to be standing all day. The checkout terminals are also adapted so that the cashiers can be sitting down for their shifts with lower registers and everything in arm's reach. I didn't take any pictures of them since I didn't want them to think I was some kind of weirdo taking their picture. I'm okay with them thinking I'm weird for taking pictures of the food but I didn't want to be Creepy Weird Tourist taking pictures of the cashiers. None of them spoke any English, at least not to me, but there was no need to since I can see my items being rung up, what the amounts were and I knew how many euros to hand over and receive back as change. I was greeted and thanked in Italian and went on my way.
The pastry and chocolates
Dessert display case

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