Glenn Gibson / Blog

Let's Go To The COOP - My trip to the grocery store in Zurich

I'm here in Switzerland with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. This is my first time being in Europe, and Zurich is a beautiful city. The origins of it go back thousands of years. But this is not a history lesson. Just a practical one.

I walked down the stairs to the lobby of Hotel Neufeld. Outside it was about 55F. The sky was blue and the air clear. The trams, trolleys or buses were bustling around on rails, most powered by electricty.

Walking down the sidewalk I noticed that there were more bikes than I'm used to seeing in the states. And more people riding them.

I was a little hungry and didn't want to go the restaurant as eating in them can be quite expensive. Although the food is excellent. But I'm a musician so we have to be frugal. Or is that the other way around?

I saw the COOP and went in. It was somewhat familiar. I saw bananas, apples, and other fruits and vegetables that I have known in the past. American brand name products. You know what they are. But I was wanting some Greek black olives, hummus, grape leaves stuffed with rice, and bread. Yes, I know it's Mediterranean food but that's what I wanted!

The treasure hunt began. I walked up and down the aisles smiling to myself when I saw Nestle's Quick and Nutella. I knew them. They were friends. Others were mysterious to me.

Ah, I found the black olives. Score one for the USA. Now for the hummus. It was more difficult to locate. Maybe they didn't carry it. Where is ethnic food aisle?

A stock clerk was taking care of her aisle. Should I approach her and possibly scare her by saying, “Do you speak English?” I was in a quandary, as I was really wanting the hummus. I turned and walked the other way still searching.

Then I came across stuffed grape leaves. I was in the zone. I knew it. Hummus had to be near by. But it wasn't.

Should I go back to the young woman and speak to her in a foreign tongue? Would she look at me in disgust? Or laugh? Or make a snide remark in her language that I wouldn't understand except that she was making fun of the stupid American? I was disparate, I didn't care. So I summoned up all my courage and asked, "Do you speak English?" She looked at me apologetically and said, “No.”

It kind of reminded me of getting my haircut for the first time as a little boy. I was scared to death but after it was over . . . it was nothing. Oh, well. Back to hummus.

The bread was easy to find. It smelled wonderful. But now to choose what type of bread. I grabbed a loaf that had olives on the front of the wrapper. Easy enough. Still no hummus.

Maybe I didn't need hummus. I had bread, olives and stuffed grape leaves. That is a meal in itself.

One last lap around the store. Then, sitting on a shelf in the kosher section . . . hummus!

All I needed now was a paper plate and a plastic spoon or fork and I was set. If only I could find them.