Grocery Shopping 3

The main grocery store is a mile from my apartment (see map).  Like most things in Norway, it’s not open Sundays; therefore meal planning is critical.  This particular Saturday, I opened up AllRecipes within 10 minutes, I picked out an oatmeal cookie, chicken pot pie, and tortilla soup recipes.  In the process, I mentally relocated back to Texas and created an afternoon grocery story adventure.  But why the elaborate meals?? Well, I had company in town, and I needed a break from the cafeteria food at work.  It’s criminal what is pawned off as a “burrito”.  Worse, it looks deceptively delicious.  Two bites later my tongue politely asked me to stop assaulting its taste buds.  I obliged and confirmed Norway doesn’t know what Mexican food should taste like.  But it does make a good appearance!

After generating a grocery list of 15-20 items, I estimated I had 30+ lbs of groceries to bring home on a warm 20 degree afternoon. Oh, the value of a well-built bike with panniers (or saddle bags).  Before I left, I bought a 2009 Long Haul Trucker by Surly and outfitted it with racks and 4 Ortlieb panniers.  It takes a good picture.  And it also carries a lot groceries… that is, if you can make it to the store.  You see, by nature, bicycles resist roads covered in fresh snow.  Lacking spiked tires, I had to do a fair amount of walking just to get to the store, which gave me enough time to think of an alternate route home.

To compound my frustration, I walked in the grocery to discover that carts require a deposit.  Of course, I didn’t have any coins on me, and I wasn’t in the mood to carry my saddle bags around to find one, either.  So, I asked someone’s grandmother for help.  Even though she didn’t quite understand my English, my face said it all, “Can you spare a dime?” Or, in Norwegian, can you spare $2!!  Yeah, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to stop converting currency even though it makes me cry.

Finally inside the store, I learned that even though 90% of the country speaks excellent English, they don’t always know the words for “baking powder” or “chicken broth”.  Why would they when chicken broth costs $5 per CUP.  Do you see why price conversions lead to tears?  Don’t ask what houses cost.  Anyway, I did find a very helpful stocker named Magnus, who helped me find all the Norwegian equivalents to what I needed.  I’ve been back since, and Magnus is quickly becoming my good friend.  I just hope it’s mutual because I have lots of questions.

Check-out in Norway is “You buy it, you bag it” system.  So, speed is valued, and slow baggers will build a queue of shoppers.  Looking dumb and foreign helps slightly, but trying to a picture of the fiasco isn’t exactly well-received.  But I did anyway… the blur is reflective of the experience. 

Four bags and $115 later, I rode back home on the main road.  As cars zipped inches from my left shoulder, I repeated promises forbidding me to ride to the grocery until the snow melted.

3 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping

  • Kevin

    That’s a sweet lookin’ ride mister! You’re going to have to bat away the ladies when you’re sittin’ on that saddle!

    And God bless H.E.B.
    I faced the same insanity while in New Zealand. Conversions. $15 peanut butter. Bag it yourself, AND pay per sack (what is this, IKEA?!). And then an hour-long-find-your-way-back-to-the-apartment-stroll with 300lbs. of food in each hand.

    Memories. You’re making memories. And you’ll never passively eat glorious Houston Mexican food again!

  • Anonymous

    Reese, your fabulous descriptions of your arrival, & grocery shopping were words that should now be put into your new book. I laughed yet cried at the same time. All of you past travel experiences helped make this adjustment do able. I did not read about work and the work place. Is is different from the Houston office? What projects are you working on?
    Love to you grandson.
    I will drop you another note after my company leaves.

  • matt

    Looks like you are on the first floor. Do they have bears or any other large wildlife around there that could come knocking at your back door? Hope the taste buds are cooperating with your eyes better.

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