Jess Pryles

A Texas Grocery Store Through A Foreigner’s Eyes

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To you it’s a grocery store. To me, it’s a whole new world of edible wonder.

I love writing these posts. The ones where I find wonder and fascination in basic things that others take for granted (as per my previous Walmart post) like the kinda stuff you find in an average Texas supermarket. The stuff that makes me stop and be that weird lady taking pictures in the aisles instead of just buying my pop tarts and moving on like a normal person.

At any rate, I found myself snapping away at an HEB recently and here’s the stuff that caught my eye:

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Let’s start with what greets you outside the store: proper wood burning offset smokers (yes there are a couple of grills in there for good measure). Sure, maybe not the best quality, but look at the range. At the grocery store. Texans: this shit doesn’t happen outside your state, ok?

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Moving along to fresh produce…the chili pepper department. Fresh tomatillo, bullhorn peppers, serrano, gorgeously shiny poblano, habañero and HOLY MOLY look at those jalapeño! Jalapeño only starting appearing in Aussie grocery stores a year or two ago, and still they are limited to a select few and some independent grocers. Worse than that, the heat levels are usually erratic and unpredictable, they can be pretty small in size and bloody expensive.What does that mean? It means that every single stuffed/wrapped/smoked jalapeño recipe is pretty much out of the question back in Australia, so I used to get a little emotional and envious when I saw these (before I had access to them on a daily basis, hooray for moving!).

Australian-at-HEB4BBQ nerds such as myself will hyperventilate a little over seeing the sheer accessibility of enormous briskets (trimmed and whole), not to mention gorgeous, meaty pork ribs (as opposed to the stingy shiners we’re cursed with in AU). As some of you know, the standard Aussie steer is slaughtered as a yearling, meaning its way smaller. Once more proving everything is bigger in Texas. Oh PS, remember how the whole state is panicking over the price of brisket? It’s about $6 a pound in Australia. So, yeah.

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Ok so this one is unique to Texas and the Southwest. I mean, you’re not reasonably going to find a tortilla selection this extensive in Maine. And ps everyone, most of em are fresh – they haven’t been vacuum sealed with a little silica gel packet to preserve the shelf life and, for what it’s worth, were probably made by people of actual Mexican descent. Tacos for URRYBODY!

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Just pausing in the cookie aisle for a moment to give some props to birthday cake oreos. BIRTHDAY CAKE OREOS! They taste just like that awesome frosting in a can, but wedged into a cookie.

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You might be in Texas when… the barbecue sauce selection takes up half an aisle, and then gently morphs into the hot sauce and marinades department. God bless consumer choice.

Yes, most of this post has been about items that have induced envy. Here’s one that doesn’t:

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Chocolate chip cookie flavored water? I’m all for cheesy, beefy, fatty and fried, but this is completely gross and unnecessary. America, THIS is why you’re fat.

Not pictured: the incredible range of bacon, the fact that nearly all American hens eggs are white (they’re nearly always brown in Australia) and the extensive bottled salsa selection.

Putting the shoe on the other foot, I would say one of the more unusual offerings for people in an Aussie supermarket is the frozen meat pie section. Is there anything about your own local store you think foreigners would find weird? Let me know!

By Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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