19 August 2013

Resupplying in Rio

There are dozens of reasons for people who live here in Búzios, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Rio, to make the trip in to the big city. Some people go in to visit with relatives, some to suffer through dental appointments, some to pick visitors up at the airport; others see Rio as the go-to place for cultural experiences, be they art exhibits, music shows, movies or plays; people go in for the usual round of life events, like weddings, births, graduations and funerals. Mark and I have been known to go to Rio for the occasional blood test. But more often than not our reason for going is more prosaic. We use Rio as our quartermaster depot. We go to Rio quite simply to resupply.

Not that a person can’t get plenty of stuff in Búzios, a person can. We’ve got supermarkets and stores aplenty, with another new supermarket being built as I write. But if you’re particular about your brands and, in addition, are somewhat economy-minded, nothing beats a resupply trip to Rio. Prices in Búzios are currently artificially high, and that coupled with the small number of brand options is all the reason I need to jump into the car and go.

Zona Sul discount badge
Our first stops are usually the two supermarkets Zona Sul and Pão de Açucar, both of which now count Mark and me as registered "members" (hey, discounts!). We load a shopping cart to the brim with our favorite brands of pasta and plum tomato sauce and haul it to the check-out counter, where we are often looked at quizzically. I remember once the cashier looked at our 25 bags of pasta, looked at us, and said, "You’re Italian, right?"

Enough pasta for 45 dinners, and plenty of wine to wash it down
Then we make our way to Carioca Zen, the only store in Rio that carries both chickpea flour and the Indian butter known as "ghee," both essential to Indian cookery. Another successful shopping spree. Then off to Mundial, a fairly downscale supermarket where we recently discovered the wine prices to be amazingly low and the wine selection surprisingly sophisticated. There we fill two or three cartons with enough bottles to last until the next trip (we hope!). At the Mundial checkout counter our clanking bottles call a lot of attention to our purchase. Some people might generously think we run a restaurant, but plenty of others raise an eyebrow or two.

So basic, so un-findable
By now the trunk is pretty full, but there’s always room for some discretionary shopping. I have to feed my reading needs and stock up at my favorite used-book store. Every so often I run low on my Paul Mitchell Super Sculpt Glaze and we find ourselves searching for a parking space in Leblon, as near as possible to the only store that sells Paul Mitchell products. And then there’s always some specialty item that seems to stay on my shopping list for months and months, never to be crossed off, because there’s just no finding it easily. For example, right now I’m in search of a pastry cutter — anybody have any ideas?

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