Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oh no, not Waitrose!

It's horrific. The only supermarket in Romsey is Waitrose.

Not that there's anything particularly wrong with Waitrose. However, supermarkets in Britain tend to be either expensive (Marks & Spencers, Waitrose), or cheap (Tesco, Sainsburys, Aldis). If you buy the supermarket brand products, it's way cheaper. E.g. I found most packets of 500g penne pasta in Sainsburys were around 1.56 pounds. Similar penne pasta labelled "Sainsburys Basics" cost 18p. Pasta, after all, is just duram wheat flour, water and egg white made into pretty shapes. Now, if only they could make wholemeal pasta at that price....

For Kiwis, this is a bit like the only supermarket in town being Woolworths or New World. Or even the Organic Shop. Bummer, it's expensive, small and mostly stocks organic goat cheese and twelve different kinds of Belgium hot chocolate powder. (I counted. The one in Milton Keynes.)

However, for Brits, it's not just about price and access to twelve different kinds of hot chocolate powder. Marks & Spencers is more like a department store with a grocery tacked on the side. It sells things like organic, (presumably happy) chicken meat for NZ$40/kg. It also has Simply M&S, a standalone shop in the rail stations and chemists/drugstores (seriously) offering gourmet packaged meals at equally gourmet prices.

As our friend Becky once observed about British life, where you shop for your groceries apparently defines you. How else to explain how keen everyone is to lug around a cloth shopping bag emblazoned with 'M&S' and a suitably arty black and white image of a woman's head or green stenciled leaves? Marks & Spencers: the only supermarket for the hipster. It's hip to be green.

Luckily for us, we just care if it's nutritious and cheap. Being new to a country has its advantages. Now we definitely need a car! Winchester's only 11 miles away, and I hear Sainsburys calling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love that you posted about grocery stores! One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to check out the different grocery stores. I love to see what things cost and what the stores offer.

The yard behind your new apartment looks nice. I hope you find reliable transportation soon. I would love to work here in town so I could walk or ride my bike to work. It seems like such a waste to spend 1/5 of my income on gas.