We’ve had a bit of time to settle in and check out the neighborhood now. After we established that there were a sufficient number of pubs and wine bars nearby to ensure that we’d never have to worry about totally sobering up, we sought out grocery purveyors. Even though the City is primarily office buildings, there are apparently enough flats around here to support a pretty extensive group of grocery outlets.

What we’ve discovered thus far:

Tesco is the 363.6 kilo (work it out) gorilla in the grocery business. They seem to be the equivalent to Kroger and Safeway in the US. We consider them the lowest common denominator supermarket. Which isn’t the same as cheapest, as that apparently is Aldi. It is intriguing that you can encounter Tesco in a variety of sizes. There’s Tesco Express, which is pretty much a convenience store, though without the Slurpies. Then there’s the Tesco Metro, a mini-supermarket that has all the standard stuff like a small produce section, fresh bread, house wares such as soaps and sponges, though weirdly enough, no plastic containers. After the Metro, there are Superstores, which much like Ahab’s white whale we’ve only heard of but never seen. We understand these are much like American style supermarkets, though they sell meat pies, and thus are incomparably the superior of Safeway. And above that is the Tesco Extra, described as a hypermarket which frankly, sounds terrifying.

We like Marks and Spencer’s, which doesn’t bring to mind a US equivalent. M&S started off as a department store, with food halls, and then they started opening stand-alone grocery outlets. Think Nordstrom, but with a high-end food store in the basement. We love or I should say, I love M&S since I can get a lot of prepared foods there, which are stunningly decent. And they have some amazing deals. Like every week there’s an offer where, for 10 pounds, you can get a main dish, a side dish, a dessert and a bottle of wine, for two people. This is amazing, and not just because it’s very much like subsidized alcohol abuse. You’d expect a bottle of wine that you’d get for this kind of deal would be pretty indistinguishable from deicing fluid, only not as tasty. But the stuff we’ve had is pretty drinkable, and I’m not just saying that because it’s the next best thing to free. The great thing about the prepared meals, besides their low, low cost, is that it leaves me with more time to try and figure out why Brits are so enamored with quiz shows on the telly.

There’s also Sainsbury, which seems like a cross between Tesco and M&S, though I’m not completely sure about that. The only one close by is pretty much the same size as a Tesco Express, and therefore the offerings, outside sandwiches and shortbread cookies in tins, are a bit limited.

And then there’s Waitrose, which I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, probably as they aren’t offering almost free bottles of wine. Or so I assume – I should check on that. Within the past few years a couple of Whole Foods have opened up in London, but they are a half dozen or more Tube stops away so we haven’t made an outing to one yet. And I’m not terribly tempted to do so, since I can visit them in the States.

Later, some ravings about the street markets here. After I finish this fine bottle of Sicilian cabernet sauvignon.


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