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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shopping Day - Attention Carrefour Shoppers

We made this our major shopping day.  We headed out by taxi to City Center mall in Maadi.  The large Carrefour store there is Linda's favorite for produce.  We started out at Chili's restaurant in the mall for lunch.  I had the Chicken Enchilada Pasta, Linda had the Classic Bacon Burger.  I don't think Linda is going to order the burger again.  And, Egyptian beef bacon doesn't have quite the same look as the picture on the menu that was shot back in the U.S.

We then stopped at the Bank of Abu Dhabi and their automated currency exchange machine.  You just insert a stack of U.S. currency into the machine, verify the total, and out comes Egyptian pounds at a a very good exchange rate.

It is a bit unnerving the first time you put your currency in, but it turns out to be a very no-hassle method of changing money.  I had brand new bills with me from Wells Fargo in Minneapolis.  Oops!  They were rejected.  Too new!  The machine doesn't accept them.  I had to go inside and at a window, have the new bills changed into old U.S. bills.  Then back to the machine.  It worked fine with the old bills.

Carrefour is the second largest retailer on earth, although you might not be familiar with it since it has no U.S. operations.  The entrance take you first past electronics.  They were running specials on 32"-46" televisions today and a high percentage of mall patrons had one in their shopping cart.  At least some parts of the economy here must be doing OK.

Here's Linda going through the "potatoes for fried" to pick out some for us.


The trick to shopping this section is to watch the signs carefully since some items are sold by the piece and some by weight.  There are no scales at the checkout counter so it is the shopper's responsibility to have all items weighted and priced before getting to check out.  Here you can see the crowd gathered around the weigh station.  At busy times, like Thursday or Friday nights, this can be quite a chaotic location in the store.


Note the cheerful slogan, "From one day to another our daily fresh vegetables deliveries make it full of fibres and vitamins."
 
While we were in the produce area, the workers re-stocked the frozen hamburger patties that were on special and everyone made a dash for them.  There must have been a two-item limit as that was what everyone seemed to pick up.  I didn't get too close.  Never get between an Egyptian and a Carrefour Special!


Here is a sample of produce prices after translating the kilograms and converting the Egyptian pound:

 

Item
U.S. $ per pound
Sweet Potatoes 0.26
Potatoes for fried 0.34
Bulk potatoes in bag 0.24
Red Bell Peppers 0.94
Green Bell Peppers 0.49
Apples 1.08
Bananas 0.98


Of course, when we got to the checkout, we had an item sold by weight and it hadn't been weighed.  Linda really wanted those carrots from the Netherlands because they are slim and snappy while the local product is fat and floppy.  (Slim and snappy costs about three times as much.)  Since they are sold in a plastic bag with a bar code on it, who would have thought it was a "weigh" item?  I ran back and had it weighed and we were done.
Sharp-eyed readers will, no doubt, notice that this is the 12-digit European Article Number and not the 10-digit Universal Product Code used in the U.S.


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