The one thing I miss most about home is the North American grocery store. With aisle after fully stocked aisle, food shopping there is more of a pleasure than a chore. I could spend all day at Kroger's.
In Hong Kong, I could spend all day at the grocery store, too, but for entirely different reasons.
This city, I know, has limited space, which is surely all the more reason for a well-laid-out shop. But from City'super to Vanguard, every one seems to be an Ikea-inspired warren of narrow aisles running off at bizarre angles and intersections. I wouldn't mind the maze-like geography so much if the shopping was easier. But all too often there are 12 products on a shelf and eight unrelated price tags. The actual price of a loaf of bread is anyone's guess, until you get to the till. Trying to keep a running total of your purchases is next to impossible.
Worst of all, Hong Kong grocery stores are criminally bad with their inventory. I don't know which cog in the wheel to blame - the shop-floor staff, or management - but why are shelves so often left bare and my favourite products not replenished?
Now, I know this might sound like a first-world problem, since I can still choose between eight brands of peanut butter, but it's unsettling when your go-to brand disappears for months. The tag lingers on the shelf, where now sits a B-grade competitor.
These days, when I find something I like, I usually stock up - leaving my tiny Hong Kong kitchen with a better supply than the shop that's meant to supply me.