Norway must be the first country I encounter in which an app that weekly updates the supermarkets’ product offers (Mattilbud) is a survival tool. No, for real, your climbing boots might ensure a fun weekend, but it will all be for nothing if you don’t know your supermarket drills.
My first supermarket trip in Bergen was a separate experience unto itself. Up until learning to convert NOK to EUR, the multitude of three-digit prices made me desperate and prepared to end up poor in my first week here. However, my algebra skills helped me get to the actual prices instantly… and still, I ended up desperate and prepared to end up poor in my first week here.
Why, Norwegian pork steak, why do you think you deserve to be valued 200% more than your equivalent Greek product? Or even 100% more than your equivalent product in a different supermarket? What is it about any brand other than FirstPrice that requires your left kidney and a virgin’s sacrifice to enjoy their products? Guess I will never find out.
Heavy despair aside, week 3 finds you way more experienced and decisive. You know your toilet-paper prices, you’ve found which supermarket has the cheap veggies, and you can now even afford a small cheat from your weekly budget and sneak in the shopping cart that super cheap package of 6 steaks you saw for the price of 13 euros!
Oh, the young and naive. No, you’re not the luckiest person alive, nope, the endless articles and travel blogs overfilled with warnings are not wrong. You just don’t know Norwegian. And when the ingredients say “60% svine”, you have no idea that your precious meat-looking masterpiece is only partially meat and 100% a sausage-like nightmare. There goes your beautiful dinner. And now you’re stuck with 5 more “steaks” to go. And it’s Saturday night.
So there comes week 5 and you’re sick and tired of taking the Bybanen to refill your vegetable fridge section. And you’re in Fantoft, so Meny seems to be suggestively shaking its thigh to you, like a dirty prostitute. And you give in. To find out what? That the demonized, the damned, the laughed-at choice for international students, actually does have a Tilbud section with crazy good offers. Be it soon-to-expire or over-the-stock products, it is only from Meny that I have found a whole chicken scrumptiously baked from its deli for 44.59NOK. And this is just the iceberg’s tip.
And here we are, about 2 months in Bergen, and not many things have changed. Rema1000’s iceberg salad will always break your heart, and Kiwi’s 1-kilo pasta will still be your 5/7 days lunch. And yes, Meny is a funny detour every once in a while, but be careful not to be fooled Black Friday-style (that exotic pineapple sauce in the offers’ counter is super cheap, that’s a fact, but that doesn’t mean you actually needed it in the first place).
The Devil’s voice from “The Witch” echoes in your head while contemplating your Erasmus choice: “Wouldst thou like a family-size ice cream? Some tasty fish? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”. But you’re enjoying your (actually pretty good!) Rema oranges on top of Ulriken, regarding a(nother) beautiful mountain sunset. And even your stomach takes a break from protesting to confirm that you’re just fine where you are.