Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Second thoughts about shopping

In my very first entry I was writing about how much I love going to supermarkets in a foreign country. I'm not telling I'm an expert but I think in the three and a half months I've spent in Norway I have got quite an overview about this and that concerning grocery stores. I don't know how to categorize this article, it's going to be a bit about my impressions of Norwegian eating habits, a bit about the Norwegian selection and a bit about my personal taste. Interested? Put your ten-crown-coin into the shopping cart and let's get started! ;)

P. Cézanne: Pain et œufs (Bread and Eggs, 1866)
Bread. I have to say there is a lot of bread being consumed here. Norwegians often start their day with some bread in the morning (or frukostblanding - breakfast mix of cereals or müsli) and continue with self-prepared sandwiches (tipically dark bread with slices of cheese) at around 12. The fact that they get up earlier and prepare their own lunch is a Norwegian phenomenon par excellence, is called matpakke ('lunch box', literally 'food package') and EVERYONE does it. The most popular bread among Norwegians is the so-called grovbrød (rough bread). It is a bit darker loaf, often with mixed seeds on top. You also can get the white, French-type bread that they call løff and of course the knekkebrød (thin, crispy bread). The ultimate knekkebrød-brand is without any doubt Swedish Wasa (the name stands for the Swedish ship built in the 17th century). The traditional Norwegian flat bread is called lefse. They sell it dry so you have to pour water on it and then let it rest for some time before you can put sugar and cinnamon on top (or anything you want) and make it into a roll.
After a decent matpakke lunch Norwegians rush home in the afternoon and have an early dinner around 5 pm which is often spaghetti bolognese or a deepfrozen pizza. If not ten people had told me that Grandiosa is Norway's favourite pizza, then noone. Grandiosa has a brown-haired uncle from Napoli called pizza italiana. They are really far relatives... Not to be mean or anything, all I want to say is that it's not going to be the pizza of your life but since Grandiosa is so big in Norway, it's worth giving it a try.

Fruits & Vegetables. For some reason I always thought markets doesn't exist above a certain circle of latitude and I also counted Norway into that area. However, Kristiansand has a little market on the main square that sells among others at least five types of potatoes, purple and romanesco broccoli - a thing I've never even heard about before. I did not have high expectations concerning fruits and vegetables in Norway but I never had a problem with finding what I needed. And the fact that a big percentage of fruits and especially vegetables was actually grown in Norway is pretty impressive - we are talking about a land that has an arable land of about 3% of its total area.

Frida Kahlo - Viva la Vida (1954)
Milk products. Tine is the name of the biggest Norwegian company specialized in dairies. Some of their products: 1. Milk that they promote with the modest slogan Kanskje verdens fineste melk (Maybe the world's best milk). Well, maybe. Anyway, I love the fact that you can buy here milk in 1.5 liter cartons. 2. Cheese (ost) in every possible colour (hvitost: white cheese; gulost: yellow cheese; brunost: brown cheese). Brown cheese is a Scandinavian specialty, a product that Norwegians miss when they go abroad - some sugar is added to the cheese in the process of making which gives it a slightly caramelish taste. You can decide yourself whether this is good or not in case of cheese... I'm not sure. You can also find it under the name Gudbrandsdalost - Gudbrandsdalen (Gudbrand valley) is the area in the North of Oslo. 3. Piano: you can find under this name a big variety of ready made puddings and other desserts of jelly consistency. This is not my cup of tea either but it seems to be popular served with vanilla sauce. 4. Biola: sour milk (plain or with different fruits) that is supposed to be super healthy!

Chocolate & Snacks. It's worse than a crime - it's a mistake... if you don't try Norwegian chocolate! Of course the end of the phrase after the three points doesn't belong to the famous quote of Foucher, it was added by me but there is one thing I warmly recommend - try the Norwegian milk chocolate if you can... it's really delicious (more about the topic is coming up!). The love for liquorice might not be that surprising (it's like that in the entire Scandinavia) - it is called 'Turkish pepper' here (tyrkisk pepper) and they usually have it salty and strong. You can also buy chocolate with sweet liquorice. This is not as big though as in Iceland (they are the proud inventors of this great mix) where every second chocolate plate or candy bar has liquorice in it. I don't really want to write about chips since it's quite universal but it might be interesting that they have their own brands (for example Maarud or Sørlandschips from Kristiansand) and often don't sell anything but those.

In every shop there is a candy bar where you pay per kilo. Candy is called godteri or smågodt in Norwegian.
Before I finish it for today, I want to share with you a little video that has been a hit for a while now on the Norwegian television. Tine (you know, the milk company) has made 4 nice TV-commercials. Variations on a theme: Why is important to have sufficiently calcium? Check out one of them and pay good attention to the music! ;)


  1. What a great little article. The only thing I have to disagree with is Piano. That thing is so delicious, I could eat one every day. Hmmm.. maybe I will.


  2. Nagyot nevettem a reklámokon, köszi!
    Jó a blog, további sok sikert hozzá!
    Üdvözlet Magyarországról:
    Kiss Máté