There are a few grocery stores in my town, but only two I go to regularly, Edeka and Lidl, each for its own reasons. In Germany grocery stores don’t have the all-in-one shopping arrangement available in the States. While an American “grocery store” will have a jewelers as well as a clothing section and a home improvement department, a German store is much smaller. This doesn’t mean, though, that they don’t offer the same things. They just don’t always have them in stock. Each week grocery stores will advertise “specials” where they sell everything from electronic keyboards and personal computers to grill sets and bathroom cupboards.
These specials are heavily advertised every week in local newspapers and in stores. For example, Edeka (partnering with Tchibo, one of Germany’s biggest coffee companies and also involved in these weekly “specials”) had a series on white and stainless steel kitchen supplies that they cunningly called “Miami Weiß,” (transl. white) pronounced just like “Miami Vice.”
Lidl, although they have home accessories and so on as well, also has a line of food specialties. Throughout the year I have stumbled upon “Mexican Week,” which I loved because I could indulge in cheap, if somewhat liberal, interpretations of salsa, tortillas, and corn chips. I was also excited when “Greek Week” arrived (no, they had no alcohol on sale) because I got to try out what I had to remind myself was not authentic Greek food.
I knew it was just a matter of time until there would be an “American Week.” And today I saw it advertised: in two weeks “America” will hit Lidl shelves. I will be able to buy such products as cranberry juice, peanut butter (crunchy and creamy versions!), maple syrup, microwave popcorn, Pringles, and salad dressing (including Blue Cheese, Ranch, and “Thousand Islands,” which does make more sense grammatically but don’t we call it “Thousand Island?”). Among the more questionably American foods on their list are hamburger sauce (what could that be?), hot dogs in a jar, and a ready-to-heat-up rib burger (can we say Gammelfleisch?). What I’m most eager to try is their “Cayun” marinade. That’s a mispronunciation and misspelling gone completely awry there.
Now, before people get upset that I’m looking down on Germany, let’s remember I’m simply finding this amusing. I also have to admit I am very grateful that “America” has come to Lidl if only so I can finally indulge in some crunchy peanut butter – and some Star-Spangled-Banner napkins to eat it with. No, seriously, I understand Americans have gotten a lot of things wrong along the way – General Zho’s Chicken or Taco Bell “Mexican” food just to name two examples. I guess we can be thankful that it creates some kind of awareness and appreciation for other cultures and foods. I only hope that no German is disappointed when they realize that most Americans wouldn’t even think of eating turkey curry pizza.