Supermarket shopping can be and often is, traumatic in Moscow. The first hurdle to jump is getting there by car and parking. Getting there will give you a small taste for being there once you finally arrive. Push you way through the city traffic and reach your shopping destination at one of the main big names in Russia ‘Auchan’ for that taste of home and cathedral of food. Big, and cheaper than the luxury ones here, it’s your best choice for monthly stocks of food, washing powder, toilet paper and other essential stuff.
When you arrive find a parking space. You can either park outside or head on down to the underground car park where BMW’s and huge black boxes on wheels snarl at each other aggressively for that last free parking space. Engines roar and its a case of seeing a space and heading for it and to hell with any shopping carts, kids or old ladies that happen to be in your way. Unload the car of kids and head up the traveling stairway to hell. Find a cart, they are free, unlike in most other countries where you have to put a coin deposit into the cart to take one off the chains. They are free carts here and carts do not suffer the shackles of cart chained slavery, they can escape whenever they want to and can roll free to a river, pond or field.
Push in through the shop gates, past the woman or man that likes to wrap your bags up in clear plastic and make you way down the big supermarket aisles. If you have a small kid, like me, who likes to pull everything off the shelves as he passes by then you may want to ask the women at the entrance to wrap your darling up in clear plastic allowing for a breathing hole and two holes for his eyes. That way they will not be able to grab everything from their cart seat and you will feel less stressed knowing they are bound up and secure. Of course this would not be allowed in my country as it would be seen as child cruelty, I call it child management. I’m only joking by the way.
annoying thing about shopping at a big supermarket in Russia, is that they often block off the main aisles with large wooden pallets of food that they use to re stock the shelves, look at the shop workers in a dirty way as you pass them and they will look back at you with killer eyes or may even punch you. You can find almost everything you need at Auchan, curtsey of those kind French. Although those French have obviously not put very much effort into their overseas training and shopping experience in Russia as they have back home. The shop gets very busy on Saturdays and expect shopping cart traffic jams at peak times. I was disappointed by the vegetable section. In France, shopping at one of these big shops is a pleasant experience, civilized, polite and at times, even religious. In France you can happily push your cart around a French supermarket like Auchan and see the neatly stacked fruit and vegetables looking like art, be amazed at the tidy seafood counter and salivate at the choice of delicious sea food on offer. You won’t get the same experience here in Moscow. Here it’s animal instinct and paratrooper style. Get in, hit your mission target and chopper out.
The vegetable section at Auchan in Russia is not like it is in France. There is no soft Barry Manilow music playing softly out of the shop speakers to calm your nerves, there is no pumped morning mist to gently caress the vegetables like morning valley dew. Instead, it’s every man and woman for themselves. Carrots lie stacked like holocaust victims in random untidy heaps.