Saturday, March 31, 2018

Grocery Shopping in Berlin

We've been here two weeks now, and I've been to a lot of Berlin grocery stores and markets, so I wanted to share my experience so far! First off, having to Google Translate for an hour to go shopping in the beginning is a must - and I must look ridiculous - but I don't know what a bunch of items are and add on top of that my usual label reading in search of vegan products, and you have hours of translating fun! Some items can't be translated however, because they use a different name here so I'll cover a few I've decoded. The good news is, most things are labeled really well, I've found every ingredient (except one) I've searched for, and the bread is outrageously good. So here we go!

Grocery Stores:
Mostly everything has a green little vegan sticker so it's pretty easy to shop. This includes mostly all the organic shampoos, conditioners, and all food products. All grocery stores have options, so I've shopped around a bit. My favorites are Rewe, Bio Company, and Veganz. Since I have a baby fridge, I've noticed that I shop at least 3x a week and buy for the next two days only. I've ended up wasting less and eating less junk because I only have room for the necessities!

Baking Products:

Here is an assortment of items I got mostly at Rewe, Edeka, Veganz, and Bio Company. I had to research these items since there is not a literal translation for some. For example:

Baking Powder = Backpulver
Baking Soda = Natron
Arrowroot/Cornstarch = Saucenbinder Hell
Nutritional Yeast (Nooch) = Engevita
Chickpeas = Ceci or Kikkerrwten
Chickpea flour = Kichererbsen Mehl
Vital Wheat Gluten = Seitan-Basis

Foreign Items:
For foreign items, I read a lot online that certain items were unattainable in all of Germany. As usual, most of that is wrong as long as you look in the right places. Being from Los Angeles, I was craving some good Mexican food and the packaged German Mexican salsa made me cry. However, they had imported authentic brands in some stores. 

Edeka has La Costena brand and they sell canned chipotle and other canned salsas and hot sauces. Tortillas are easy to find at any store, but I haven't tried them yet. Cilantro (called Coriander), chills, avocado and lime are available at most stores as well. I made vegan empanadas from scratch from all these ingredients and some chipotle mayo on the side to make it super non-authentic. 

No American Products: 
Getting a damn normal jar of peanut butter has been hard so far. I got a jar with something that translated to American Peanuts with the statue of Liberty on it. But then it had lots of oil fillers making it less rich and not really good. Forget about ever seeing a jar of Skippy in your life, most American brands are not present. Even when I see a real Coca-Cola and not hipster German cola I'm surprised (lack of American products are all good except shitty peanut butter and seriously horrible packaged seitan but I'm still on the hunt). I can't find ANY coffee creamers to save my life. I accidentally got Hafermilch Cuisine, which is really a non-dairy suuuper thick creamy soup ingredient. They call them Coffee Whiteners supposedly, but I must be looking in the wrong place. 

American Product Replacement Update:
Found a legit peanut butter from Holland (Pinda Kaas) that is only sold in Asian markets. Half way found the coffee creamer replacement, but it's super wasteful. Veganz sells these little one-time-use soy milk creamers that aren't so bad and only 50 cents for 10. Finally, I found a great meat replacement made right here in Berlin called Terra Vegane

Local Products I Love:
  • ChariTea Sparkling Mate and Lamate! (The sparking mate with way less sugar than 'Merica)
  • Super healthy German bread (with seeds, nuts, and carrots inside) from the local baker..yumm. They have the best bread in the world here.
  • Suppengrun! German's answer to the Mirepoix from France. They package up carrots, celery root, leeks, and parsley wrapped in a little band and you go home with one serving of it ready to go. I created a simple recipe I will share soon!
  • Weird-ass potato fingers aka Schupfnudel (Germans say they created it before the Italians created gnocchi...hmm)
  • Souppen! German soups are the best, and they are really cheap. Also, when it's snowing outside and they sell the best soup you've ever had with that dense bread, it kind of feels okay for like a second
  • Hafermilch - Oat milk is everywhere here and almond milk is not..but Oat milk is fluffier and has a microbubble index of 5,000%*
That's all the shopping I'll cover for now, but I'll update the list as my hunt continues! Tschüss!