While you can’t get everything you would have been able to find at home, you can get everything you need and more. While products like curry paste or Brie cheese or Dr.Pepper, are not available at a regular grocery store, you can find these products at some of the specialty stores in Moldova.
Living in Balti, I had several supermarkets to choose from including the always amazing, Metro, so I could get almost any specialty product that’s available in Moldova (we did not however have anywhere in Balti that had Dr. Pepper, although I’ve heard rumors they have it now). Most volunteers however, even those living in Raion centers, do not have access to most specialty products, but they usually have at least one grocery store. Volunteers in villages often have one magazine, that might sell sodas, alcohol, snack foods, ice cream and a few other things – meaning they have to do most of their shopping at their local piata or when they’re visiting the cities here.
One interesting thing here is the milk. It comes in three different types of containers and you always, always have to check the expiration dates, because it’s not unusual for it to be expired or near expiration.
Another interesting thing in the grocery stores in Moldova are the chip flavors and variety. (See my previous posting on beer snacks for more information on that.)
But the most interesting thing about the grocery stores in Moldova is their varied merchandise – ie they don’t always necessarily have certain stock, depending on the season, where they import from, and the prices vary greatly by season. One great example of this is tomatoes.In the summer tomatoes may cost 8 lei for a kilo (2 pounds) and in the winter maybe 80 lei for the same amount. That is if you can find them.
This drastic difference in price and availability between the winter and summer months means your diet at different times of the year looks vastly different.