Dixie Peach: They Just Waited for Me to Leave Town

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

They Just Waited for Me to Leave Town

I believe that not long before I left Germany for my vacation in America I reported to y'all that the small verging on tiny American foods section in my neighborhood Karstadt (that's a department store for you not-living-in-Germany types) had begun to once again sell Hellmann's mayonnaise. Tiny, overpriced bottles but my love of Hellmann's knows no limit. They'd also about a year or so ago began to sell pickle relish, another thing I must have that I have found no acceptable substitute for in Germany. This had thrilled me no end (I'd been relying on family and friends to send me my fix) and when I was in Mississippi last month I didn't bother to buy any Hellmann's or pickle relish because I was freaking out about my luggage being overweight and I figured that if I submit to their coercion buy my stuff at Karstadt then they'd continue to stock it. "Order more Hellmann's and pickle relish, Hans-Dieter! Some sucker is buying it like crazy!"

Last week I found myself down in the small grocery store that takes up half of the basement floor of Karstadt - the first time I'd been there since I returned to Germany - and found it completely changed. It was always overpriced and I only went there if I needed one thing and it wasn't convenient to get to a normal grocery store. Now it's been turned into some sort of upscale grocery store - mostly the same stuff and the same prices but if you give it a gourmet sounding name I suppose you can justify what you charge for a carton of yogurt. I wandered around trying to find the one thing I went there for - the arrangement of the store having been completely changed - and I realized the American food section is gone. Gone! No trace of it remains. You know I didn't ever buy them but I like having the option of going there to buy s'mores flavored PopTarts or tiny packs of Oreos if I wanted them. And once in a great while I'd lose my mind and buy a box of blueberry muffin mix to the tune of 5€ a box. And! And! It was my one source of microwave popcorn in the kettle corn flavor! But I can get over all this. I don't need the popcorn and I can make blueberry muffins without the aid of a mix but taking away my beloved American foods section ends my ability to buy Hellmann's and pickle relish with no more effort than it takes for me to walk the 200 meters to Karstadt. Now that's just cruel.

Luckily the internet and the ability of people to envision that suckers expatriates like me will go to great lengths to obtain the foods they crave has made it possible for me to order these products and have them delivered to my home. Expensive and not always convenient if they're out of something you're desperately needing but it fills a need. I began to make a shopping list this afternoon - I have one big jar of Hellmann's (thanks Kara!) and one jar of pickle relish I'd bought before I left town but B's wanting me to make potato salad and that means the end of those jars in short order - and I had a near stroke when I couldn't find pickle relish on the website I'd used most recently. I looked all over and they didn't have it - I suppose because they sell mostly British food and I guess pickle relish is more American. They do, however, have a grand selection of barbecue sauce and apple sauce - and so does every freaking grocery store in Germany because those are common items here. Way to fill a need there, guys!

But I remembered another American foods website and there it all was. PopTarts. Muffin mix. Microwave kettle corn. Glorious Hellmann's. And pickle relish. Sweet, sweet pickle relish.

I think I need to set up a Hellmann's and relish subscription with these folks.

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Blogger Martina said...

I saw Hellmann's at Real,- last week - maybe you have one in your area that stocks it? (Our didn't used to, last week was the first time I saw it there.)

5:47 AM  
Blogger The Big Finn said...

I can't understand why any store in Europe would stop carrying an American product at this time. I mean, the dollar is so freakin' weak right now that they could probably buy a big jar of Hellmann's for something like 50 cents, charge three euros for it, and make a killing.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Marsha said...

Maybe you could write the Hellman's people a nice letter telling your story and asking to please send you the recipe for Hellman's mayonnaise a secret you will guard with your life. Or we could set up a monthly kinder egg and other assorted chocolates for Hellman's and pickle relish exchange. I would ask for beer but I do believe that might be a tad illegal.

6:47 PM  
Blogger UmmFarouq said...

I am suddenly craving potato salad. And drooling, at that!

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed that you should never assume a German store will restock something that's selling well anyway. If it's not a typically German item, the shelf might just sit there empty for weeks (or something else unrelated will mysteriously appear there with no trace of the old product, only for it to reappear 2 months later). I don't get that behavior at all. If you're making money because some sap American is buying the overpriced product every 3 days, wouldn't you ORDER MORE???

9:47 PM  

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