7 Tips for Supermarket Survival

Supermarkets eh? My mum remembers when supermarkets were first introduced – what a novelty it was to be able to pick up and choose the items yourself without having to ask a guy in the brown overalls behind a counter to fetch you a dozen eggs or a pound of sugar. 

Nowadays many people see supermarkets as a necessary evil. ‘Necessary’ because, by human nature, we want the convenience of buying all our things in one place and we want to pay low prices. ‘Evil’ because they tend to promote harmful/unsustainable farming techniques, they squeeze small suppliers and competitors out of the market and ultimately lead towards monopolies which are not in the interests of the consumer (phew!).

Still, if you live in a city then you have to be either very rich or very dedicated to the cause to avoid supermarkets altogether. And although I love traditional markets (and use one near my home once a week), I do most of my shopping in a supermarket near work. The following are my top 7 supermarket survival tips:

A traditional shopkeeper (and his long-suffering assistant).

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How to use the Rio Metro (Beginners Guide)

A few weeks ago my wife and I were accosted as we entered our local metro station in Glória. But before you start thinking this is going to be another tale of Rio’s notorious violence, I should make it clear that the only law enforcement team we needed were the Manners Police

A middle aged South African guy came up to us and frantically shouted “Finally! Someone who speaks English”. He went on to demand that we tell him how to get to Ipanema, going on to mention that he and his wife (who had wordlessly appeared at his side) were completely lost and no one could explain anything to him. We were happy to help, but were both quite taken aback by his slightly rude, aggressive stance through all this. Like what had taken us so long to get there to help him?

Metro Rio – nothing here to be scared of (but don’t expect the staff to speak English).

Not that I particularly want to help him again, but I thought it might be nice to put together some simple guidelines for someone coming to Rio who wanted to save some cash on taxis. 

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10 things you mustn’t do at the kilo

Last week I told you a little about the tactics I employ at the kilo restaurant near my workIt’s hardly rocket science, but there are a few things that you should bear in mind when you visit the kilo. 

My top tip is not to lose your ticket. Without the ticket you have no way of proving how much (or more to the point, how little) you ate. Therefore you will have to pay the massive default price, set deliberately high in order to eliminate the incentive to ‘accidentally’ lose your ticket after a big meal. 

Here are ten more tips/rules/guidelines on how to behave at the kilo restaurant (stolen adapted from a recent article in IG): 


1. This ain’t finger-food
Don’t go snacking on food before you’ve paid for it. 

Oh no she didn’t! Uh-huh, eating food you haven’t paid for is a no-no. Image:

2. Keep your hair on
Try not to drop hairs in the food (did this one need saying?)

3. No tortoises in the kilo
These places get very busy at lunch. It is very annoying when someone in front is dithering and taking ages to make their mind up. Get in, get your food, get out of the way. The article suggests a tactic I often employ: do a little reconnaissance run by the food first so you know what you want. 

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A Word of Advice…

…the Caipirinha is a powerful drink and should be treated with respect.

Do not make the mistake of underestimating the power of Brazil’s most famous cocktail. When I have recovered from my hangover, I’ll tell you how to make one for yourself.

True Pepper

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like Brazilian food when I first got here, but it did take a little time to get to know it well enough that I could appreciate the difference between, for example, good farofa and bad farofa – at first they all just taste like weird, dry powder. After a while you get a feel for it and you start to understand why some places have people spilling out onto the street while others stand empty. 

One criticism you could level at mainstream Brazilian food is that it can be a little bland and stodgy. I’ve learned to love rice, beans and farofa but there are times when I long for a lamb bhuna or a Thai green curry. 


Indian food. Sigh - que saudade…


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How to drink beer like a Brazilian

Right now it is quite chilly in Rio. In fact it has been cold for the last few weeks and I have to say I am starting to feel somewhat aggrieved – this is not what someone from my part of the world expects from ‘Sunny Rio’. Thankfully, most of the year the weather is just how I like it – hot, very hot or boiling. And the drink of choice when you are in need of refreshment? Cerveja! [ser-VAY-zha]

In the course of my (ahem) exhaustive research I uncovered some interesting beer facts. Brazil is the fifth largest beer producer in the world, making nearly 10 billion litres each year. Most of this is made by an evil company called Ambev which has something approaching a monopoly here. But I was surprised to discover that the average Brazilian drinks just 53 litres each year – compare this to the average Czech who drinks 158:

Top drinking from the Czechs. No big surprise to find Ireland near the top! (

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