Buying groceries is one of the challenges of living in a country where I don’t speak the language. Not only that, but many items are not labeled in Faroese, but in Danish.
I like packages that you can see through – it was easy to buy rice (ris) and pasta (pasta). However the first package of rice that I bought took about an hour to cook, and I figured out that I needed to buy parboiled rice, which seems to cook fine in about 15 minutes.
It took me several trips to the store to buy spices. It helped to see whole cinnamon sticks labeled “kanel,” so I bought the ground kanel as well. The same was true for cloves (nellikor). I checked the dictionary to find out that ginger is “ingifer,” but the package I bought was labeled in Swedish and Danish with something similar. I also discovered that molasses is called “dark syrup.” Well, after all of these purchases, I made a very credible ginger/molasses cake and topped it with whipped cream mixed with mascarpone cheese. Served warm, it was delicious.
Another challenge is that the selection of items in the grocery stores is limited, and some things are quite expensive. I am used to going to Berkeley produce stores with limitless variety. Here, we can regularly buy apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and this summer we have had nectarines, plums, and kiwi. Fresh vegetables include carrots, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Last week I was delighted to buy fresh zucchini and a small pumpkin. I looked at the avocados, but they cost about $4 each – maybe someday I will buy one for a special treat.
When I buy meat, I can usually figure out what kind of animal it came from, but that doesn’t help me know how to cook it. I bought something with a picture of a cow on it, so it must be beef. I also buy frozen boneless chicken breasts, but I don’t have a freezer, so I can’t keep them long. Faroese people eat a lot of meat, and a simple family meal is often just meat and potatoes.
All of this talk of food is making me hungry, so I think it is time to cook dinner. Tonight it will be some version of chicken.