Friday, October 1, 2010

First thoughts about shopping

If you want to start a blog about your everydays in a foreign country (in my case Norway), I think it's smart to dedicate the first entry to shopping food. Not just because this is one of the first differences you have to face abroad but also because these pieces of information can be useful anyone (I remember myself being lost all the time in every supermarket during my first some weeks in Kristiansand) and also because I think supermarkets are like a mirror of the lifestyle and in some extent the culture of a country.

Well, let's follow the golden rule of journalism (Only bad news are good news...) and start with bad news: Norway is an expensive country. This applies for pretty much everything, particularly meat (kjøtt) and alcoholic beverages (alkoholiske drikke). Norwegian families who live close to the Swedish border often drive there to do the weekly shopping. It's also common to take the ferry to Denmark in the morning and return with a car full of kjøttdeig (minced meat), kylling (chicken) and biff (beef) and of course øl (beer).

The good news on the other hand is that after some time (and after some bad moments caused by some very bad buys...) you will have a certain experience where what to shop.

You can find many elegant grocery stores in Norway like Coop or ICA where they often have good offers. Anyways, if the fanciness-factor is not that important for you, there are some other adresses I would recommend. According to locals, the cheapest places to shop are Rema1000, Rimi and Kiwi, the youngest supermarket in the country with its shrill light green colour.

Rema1000 (or Rema Tusen) is based in Trondheim and the first shop with this name was opened up in 1979. Since then Rema has kept the initial concept – the interieur is consciously simple, almost warehousy without any effort to create luxury.
I was very interested where the name comes from and I was quite sure that 1000 has something to do with money (especially since I saw their slogan on their plastic bag: De smarte sparer tusener – something like Smart people save thousands). The word Rema is actually (just like IKEA or Haribo) an acronym made from the founders name Reitan and the word mat, the Norwegian equivalent for food, while 1000 stands as a reminder for the period when the shop only sold exactly thousand different products.
Although the number of products has heavily increased, the concept of simplicity and the name remained and the recipe seems to work – Rema is today the biggest supermarket chain in Norway.

All the advice I can give is to be uptodate concerning good offers and then buy as much as you can, to avoid processed food (it really pays up in Norway if you make everything from scratch – even if you live alone! Btw. you should avoid processed food anyways...It's bad for you!) and maybe to learn these phrases I have collected. They might come handy ;)

Kan du hjelpe meg? (Can you help me?)
Jeg bare ser./Jeg vil bare kikke litt. (I'm just looking around.)
Vil du ha kvitteringen? (Would you like to have the receipt? - This is a common question you hear in Norway when you pay, if you say no, they will not print it or throw it away for you.)
Kan jeg ha ei pose? (Can I have a plastic bag?)
Jeg vil betale med kort. (I would like to pay with card.)
Jeg vil betale kontant. (I would like to pay cash.)
Hvor mye koster det? (How much does it cost?)

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