tuesday, 24 july 2012

posted at 03:21

First day in the office today, and all is going well. I'll write more about that and post some pics later, but for now lets talk about that most mundane of tasks: grocery shopping.

the least-weird products available

For the non-Norwegian in Norway, at least two problems present themselves (I say "at least" because I created more problems of my own):

  1. Pretty much every single word on every single packet is in a language I don't understand.
  2. The prices are all in a different currency on a different scale, making comparisons quite difficults.

I went in thinking I needed to at least grab sugar (for my coffee), shampoo, and something for breakfast and dinner for the next couple of nights. I made a quick spaghetti bolognese last night and saved the leftovers, but I undercooked the spaghetti so I'm not keen on reheating it. Besides, I probably can't live off that for four weeks.

Most of this is what you'd expect, though I hated having to buy 1kg packets of salt and sugar and 1.5L of oil. Maybe I should bake a cake?

The most difficult/controversial item here is probably the butter ("Meierismør"). At home I eat spreadable butter, which is butter with a little oil mixed in to make it softer at room temperature. I don't like the taste of margarine. Most of the products on offer looked to be margarine, which I managed to infer from either the packet having "marg" on it somewhere or the ingredients list having more than a couple of things (ie butter, salt, preservative, that sort of thing). Anyway it looks like I lucked out but man, it took a lot of study to finally select this one. There was a few other things like that, but none quite this tough.

The other crazy thing is the prices. 1AUD is worth about 5-6NOK, depending who you ask. What you see here cost 373,10Kr. According to my bank I paid $59.06. That doesn't seem too outrageous considering there's meat and fish in there. So that's ok. When considering the difference between two products its really hard to suppress my normal instinct about what's cheap, what's expensive and how two prices compare. Consider the shampoo. I paid 21,90Kr, which works out to about $3.50. Prices for shampoo ranged from 15-40Kr. So my warning bells go up with "holy crap, $22 for shampoo and a range of $25? wtf?" when in practice the range is around $2.50-6.50, which is pretty much spot on.

Other things you can do to make your shopping trip harder than it needs to be:

  1. Go in having no particular idea of what it is you need (this applies in Melbourne too).
  2. Go to the supermarket at the work end of the train ride, so you have to public transport your loot all the way home.
  3. Forget that this is Europe where they make you pack your own stuff and don't just give you a bag for every two items.

I was also lucky enough to find a cashier that couldn't (or wouldn't) speak English. Fortunately buying groceries is pretty much the same wherever you go.

Now, dinner!