the ghetto tesco

i am sitting in my bedroom, working on a bottle of the world’s worst malbec/shiraz mix (why did i buy that?) and thinking about how it’s getting cold outside. there is a predicted frost tonight… the irish like to muse and predict and make plans with no follow through. or so it seems. and such will be the case with tonight’s aforementioned supposed frost. 2 days ago i was in a t-shirt.

there is a grocery store just down the road from where i live – it’s “tesco” which is the main grocery chain in ireland. but this has got to be, to borrow an americanism, the MOST GHETTO tesco in dublin! and by that, i mean it is the most ghetto tesco on EARTH. first of all, the tesco is small… as in, tiny. as in, always strapped for spaces with queues (lines) at all 4 registers. additionally, this tesco is NEVER stocked. whenever i have gone in, they are always restocking. every single time. boxes strewn about, half open, and grimy disgruntled workers ambling around without purpose. it’s horrifying. also, the produce in this tesco is unspeakable. even the ORANGES are frightening and i find myself wanting to buy frozen vegetables in lieu of getting some horrific strain of mold or god-knows-what off the “fresh” produce. never buy Ghetto Tesco Fresh Produce.

this tesco also sells chilled, pre-packaged meats and goods… things like pre-prepared stuffed chicken kiev or tandoori or bake-at-home pizzas. the thing is, i swear these are like “seconds” of the products they sell at normal tescos. these are the chicken kievs that didn’t sell in the main store on henry street and they have sent them out, past date, to the ghetto drumcondra tesco because they know the st. patricks college and dcu students will buy ANYTHING for €3.99, particularly something pre-prepared.

i have been shopping at this tesco for the simple reason that it is close by and i am lazy. i do not feel like taking a damn bus into town and hauling my groceries home from fucking o’connell street… that is a long-ass hike. the ghetto tesco is absurdly convenient, which explains why it is constantly restocking and why it is so ghetto to begin with.

but i have begun to notice some things. now, i can’t tell you exactly if this has to do with irish culture in general or just the ghetto tesco, and i will have to do further research to examine the real cultural norms behind this. but here are some observations i have made about grocery shopping based on my experience over the past month.

*take your own, reusable, enviro-friendly shopping bags, because they ain’t no friggin bags!. yes, it’s good. people are conscientious. they don’t waste. plastic bags are a waste. it’s easy to bring your own.

*don’t look for pickles. there are no pickles. if you are lucky and happen into ghetto tesco on a not-too-busy-stocking day, you might find ONE jar of sandwich slice dills. but don’t go looking for pickles, they ain’t none.

*there seems to be a need for mayonnaise. i am talking every kind, type, genre, brand, and size possible. they have got LOADS of mayonnaise here. imagine what the salsa section of your average albuquerque smith’s looks like… yeah, THAT’S how much mayo they have. no, scratch that — they have replaced all the fucking pickles with mayonnaise. i would kill for a pickle right now.

*beef is ex.pen.sive. also, if you are looking for “ground beef” it will be labeled “minced beef” and so will every other type of “ground” anything.

*chips/crisps/chips – now this is only peripherally related to the ghetto tesco. but, generally in ireland, french fries are chips and chips are crisps and cookies are biscuits, except in the case of tortilla chips, which are in fact called tortilla chips. except that you can’t find them anywhere, especially at the ghetto tesco.

*there is this BRILLIANT cheese called “wexford cheese”– i think it’s made in WEXFORD ha! — that is the best cheese i’ve found in ireland. it’s hard and crumbling white cheddar with those little crunchy bits every-so-often. there is a man on the front of the package wearing a wool beanie cap and a big gap-toothed smile that makes me believe this cheese is more authentic. ghetto tesco sells this cheese for 2-for-1. i love this.

*bread. people in ireland eat WHITE BREAD. correct me if i’m wrong, but i don’t think anyone has eaten white bread in the united states since like 1983! but seriously, the amount of white bread available in the ghetto tesco compared with other types of bread available… it’s just staggering.

*speaking of other types of bread, the irish have this stuff called soda bread. i have no idea how it’s made exactly, but it’s thick and mealy and the loaves are flat and short and thick. it’s kind of dark and wheatish and it’s so amazing to eat with butter and jam in the mornings. except that the bread is too short and gets lost in the toaster and you have to fish it out with a knife, which is dangerous.

*you also have to store your bread in the refrigerator because, apparently in wet climates, bread gets mold in like 2 days!

to close, i would like to tell a story. the other day, i was visiting my local off-license, aka liquor store. i like this off-license because the man who owns it is irish and he obviously has owned it for ages and he knows a lot about wine, and i often pick his brain about the bottles of wine before i buy them. he also has a good selection and good prices, and i like to support that, rather than ghetto tesco which gets wine packaged especially for tesco and marked “TESCO MERLOT” which scares the bejesus out of me. anyway… …… the other day, as i was leaving, i noticed on the door of the off-license a sign advertising sunday mass at the local drumcondra parish church. so i thought to myself…

only in ireland would you meet the prime minister in a pub and find church ads on liquor store windows.

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