Shopping yesterday at a bustling Cascais supermarket yesterday was like finding a mammoth Whole Foods with Trader Joe’s prices.
The vast market showcased an abundance of beautiful produce, including avocados and fall-fresh apples. Wonderful fresh breads and sweets beckoned from the bakery. The fish section overflowed with every whole fresh fish and shellfish imaginable, and the wine aisles offered a mind-blowing array of Portuguese vintages from every region of the country – at affordable prices.
We also discovered international aisles. That’s why we have salsa for our Saturday scramble and Scottish shortbread for Mary’s breakfast sweet with coffee.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises about the store was the number of employees available to help. There was always someone nearby to help us find items on our long shopping list.
From our experience, no supermarket in the US comes close to offering this variety of merchandise and service. But it isn’t just supermarkets that stand out in Europe. Farmer’s markets here are massive affairs and have become tourist attractions in almost every city.
You don’t have to get in your car in Europe for daily shopping needs. There are family-owned butcher shops and bakeries around almost every corner. And there are always plenty of affordable local eateries where you can get a full meal with wine for the price a meal at an American fast-food joint. A bottle of excellent wine in a restaurant is less than $15 and less than $5 in a local market.
In short, Europe is a food and wine lover’s paradise. It’s easy for us to see why people here are healthier and happier. We can learn a lot from our cousins across the pond.