The grocery store of choice near where I will be living is Albert Heijn. Although it’s nowhere near the typical size of an American grocery store (maybe 12 or so aisles) it works for most things. The store itself is on the lower level, with escalators allowing access from street level. When the escalators are functioning of course; one time they were broken for about 5 weeks straight. I considered taking a picture of the negative comments a customer left on the official “We’re sorry” note but didn’t…
Some of the things that surprised me included how much stuff was in boxes, including the melk (milk), though that is pretty normal for the Netherlands I believe. I was also surprised to learn that you could break up a pack of drinks – if you only wanted 1 beer out of the 6 pack, feel free to grab it and buy only the one.
I also enjoyed walking down the chips aisle. You do see a lot of different flavors there – for example, Lay’s Ham flavored potato chips. Barbecue ham (I think), which I never tried. However, I did grow fond of paprika chips, especially the Albert Heijn brand. YUM!
At the moment I consume a lot of mustard — I just slather it on. Specifically yellow mustard, which was the only mustard I knew about growing up outside of Chicago. Moving to the east coast did introduce me to spicy brown mustard, but it wasn’t the same. The picture above is of the “American section” at the closest Albert Heijn – it’s really just a few shelves worth of things. I will point out that the barbecue sauce to the right of the mustard is not that good – at least when you consider I like spicy/tangy barbecues sauces, not sweet ones. So I might still be shipping in some barbecue sauce from Amazon UK or similar.
Here you have two foods that were introduced around my first trip to the Netherlands in 2010 — they were there a bit before that, I think. But when they first appeared on the shelves, the cheese curls on the left were pretty good. And then after a few months, the quality declined, until they were mostly good as “drunk food”. Originally they were a lot more crunchy.
Another interesting thing was when it came time to pay. If you want a bag to put your items in, you must pay half a euro for the bag. However there are a lot of places in America that charge for bags as well and I must admit the bag you get is very big, sturdy, and reusable. Also, after you pay for your items, you are expected to bag your own items (fine by me). There is a divider that the cashier moves either to the left or right – that way you have time to pack your items while the cashier is also scanning the next customer’s items.
Finally, a guilty pleasure of mine: stroopwafel ice cream [note: 4.7MB – might load slow].
You may want to check out http://www.amerikaansewinkel.nl for some BBQ sauce and other American food items. I haven’t used them, so I don’t know how good they are, but they have an interesting selection of items that make me nostalgic, even if I didn’t even eat half the stuff when I actually lived in the US.