I take any opportunity to go out into the city. A coworker offered to take me grocery shopping on the way home from work so how could I say no?
Today we visited Lulu Hypermarket, Gharafa, Qatar. I spent 267.45 QAR = 73.45 USD. As I am stocking my pantry its taking a bit of money but I know it will level out soon. Today's awesome haul includes flat bread, pitas, lentils, sausage, and beans. Also there are fruits and veggies in the plastic bags to the back right. I also bought hot sauce, salsa and crushed red peppers. Dried fruit is easy to find so I bought a big bag of dried dates. I also got pasta, miso soup, and bio yogurt. I think bio yogurt is just regular yogurt but the package always says bio yogurt. It tastes just the same, maybe less sweet. I bought a 2kg=4.5lb bag of rice which is going to be very interested because I have never excelled at cooking regular rice. I always cheat and buy the minute stuff. The bags of rice are huge here, if you want a bag that 4 times what I bought this is no trouble at all.
A happy discovery today was the blue round dish behind the rice, it is helva or halva. This is a sweet paste of sesame seeds (tahini) that often has pistachios or fruits mixed in. It has the consistency of dry peanut butter or the filling of a Reese's Cup. Since helva means sweets or dessert there is a lot of variety in recipes. In some countries helva is flour based while in other countries the treat is made with sunflower butter. In the US you may find the item in the international section labeled Sesame Fudge. This is how mom buys it in Ohio.
I'm not ready to commit to the purchase of a drip coffee maker so I bought more instant coffee. It isn't great but at 5am its good. Also instant makes nice cold coffee drinks when I get home from work. Instant coffee like Nescafe is very common here and unless you ask how the coffee is made you will get nescafe. When you eat out you can look for American Coffee or even Turkish Coffee. To me Arabic is more like chai because it is unique in some many ways. There are more differences than similarities when you compare Arabic coffee and American coffee.
It is great to shop with other people because they may have found great bargains or new tastes they really enjoy. Then you can benefit from their experience. Today my friend suggested Fougasse Zatar. This is definitely an multicultural item. The Fougasse is a French flatbread. The spice mix on top, Zatar, or Za'tar (I learned at work to say this like za-tr) is generally from the Middle East and varies greatly. The two main ingredients are sumac and sesame while the other herbs that can include thyme, marjoram and oregano. For this bread the spice mix was combined with olive oil. What could be bad? The bread is 3.50RIY = .91USD for two large breads. Compared to many US grocery options, its almost cheaper to eat the healthy foods here.
Given the prevalence of fresh baked goods and their economical nature I think its a safe bet that I will be moving away from eating breakfast cereal. Boxed cereal costs too much and with options like I've found so far who would want corn flakes at a time like this?