When we came to Goroka we really didn’t know what to expect in terms of supermarkets and food. We were pleasantly surprised by some things, but found others lacking. There are a few supermarket chains here: Papindo (3 stores in town), Goroka Food Mart (2 stores), Bintangor, and SVS. And then there’s the big market, which I’ll talk about in another post.
When shopping, you basically have to hit every store – which isn’t too hard since they are all within a 2-block radius of each other. You never know what treasures you will find, and which store will have your desired item. Every store tends to have the basics – rice, flour, soap, etc – but some stores have ‘specialty’ items. For example, cheese is a hot commodity here. While Bintangor usually has cheese, it isn’t stored properly, so you really have to examine it to get the least sketchy ones. But when Papindo gets it in, it tends to be in good shape. The price is very variable as well – some weeks it’s K7 per block, others (like today) it’s as much as K30. People here tend to stock up when it’s available, especially when the price is right! I’ve found Nutella at both Papindo and Bintangor, but it’s about K10 cheaper at Bintangor. SVS has a small liquor shop in it, where you can get beer, wine, and a few hard liquors (Malibu Rum, Johnny Walker Rye, and a few others), but they tend to be pretty expensive. When it comes to the types of candy and chips that North Americans are used to, Goroka Food Mart is the only place to go. They carry M&Ms, Coke, Mike & Ike, Skittles, and Crunch & Munch! They have a cat there as well, which I think is for keeping the rat/mouse population down. The cat is quite friendly, but sadly they’ve clipped the cats whiskers as there is a belief here that clipped whiskers will keep a cat from going feral.
Recently Papindo brought in some Gluten Free flours, cake, and pancake mixes. I spent about K350 (~ $140 CAD) buying as much as possible, since no-one has ever seen it stocked before, and who knows when it will be stocked again!!
Matt and I stayed away from meat for about a month before we were brave enough to buy some. Looking at the meat, the freshness was questionable. So, as a protein source, we thought we would have some tinned corned beef, as they have Hereford brand here – the same as in Canada! We decided to fry some up. Unlike the Canadian product it turned into an unappealing mush immediately, with what looked like noodles in it… they weren’t noodles. Upon examining the tin, we discovered a sign that has now become familiar and feared: PNG MADE. While this label does not always spell doom, we’ve learned to approach these food items with caution, especially meat items. The first time we bought minced beef, we ended up throwing it out, since it smelled weird, even after it had been cooked. The second time, it still smelled a bit weird, but it smelled fine once cooked so we decided to eat it. So far so good. But you really have to examine the meat for freshness before buying! I also wouldn’t trust the fish up here, since it’s pretty hard carting things up from the coast – the roads are quite bad and often impassable.
We’ve found a lot of familiar things, that are just slightly different. Although Matt has yet to find a satisfactory potato chip.
Others are completely foreign, like chicken and beef flavoured crackers – Matt’s a fan of those.
Spices can be hard to find. Fresh garlic and ginger are easy to come by. Salt, pepper, chili powder, and curry powder are easy to find. I’ve come across paprika, cinnamon, and galangal… whatever that is… but cumin has evaded us. MSG, on the other hand, abounds.
The eggs here are not sterilized like in North America, and left unrefrigerated.