Thoughts Inspired by Hungarian Supermarket Bread

Thoughts Inspired by Hungarian Supermarket Bread

Whenever I go to any of the Tesco supermarkets here in Szeged, I see something I’ve never seen elsewhere in Europe—loaves of bread with stickers applied directly to the bread. It’s not just Tesco either. In Spar, it’s just the same.

It’s not the first time I’ve encountered bread without bags in supermarkets. The supermarkets in the Czech republic do the same. The bread sits there on display, minus bags, and anyone can pick it up and then replace it on the shelves. If someone has done so or coughed or sneezed over the bread, who’s to know?

In the Czech Republic, the supermarket bread sections I visited had disposable plastic gloves for customers to use instead of picking up their bread with dirty hands. That’s okay, but, gloves or not, there’s still no way to be certain who has been handling the bread before you. Hungarian supermarkets don’t provide customers with gloves.

In German supermarkets, the bread is inside transparent plastic cubicles and you have to use long-handled, metal tongs to direct it towards your bag. I’ve seen a similar set up in other countries too.

Buying bread from a supermarket is a simple, everyday task. It’s amazing how the experience can differ from one country to the next.

The experience varies when you buy bread from bakeries too. In Ukraine, they may just hand over a loaf of bread without providing any bag at all. The bakers in Portugal put the bread in paper bags but in other countries, the bag is often plastic and, in North Macedonia, there may put a few paper napkins inside the bag with the bread.

Bread buns from a bakery in North Macedonia. Why are there napkins inside the bag? Good question. I have no idea.

In Albanian bakeries, they put the bread in paper bags and, if you ask them too, they can slice it first using a special machine. I don’t remember seeing a machine like that in any of the other countries I’ve visited so far, but it’s an impressive bit of kit.

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