Over the summer I spent a weekend in England. I am an infrequent visitor to my homeland and each time I observe more things that seem very different to life in Denmark and to how I recall England. I wonder if the UK has changed a lot or my outlook has altered as it seems almost an alien place to me.
The biggest thing is the sheer volume of products available in the supermarkets which when looked at carefully is actually a limited choice. For example there was a whole aisle of meat pies to chose from but when it comes down to it how many meat pies can you actually chose from? They are all variations on a theme with subtle differences. Just as the vast array of breakfast cereals. But to the eye it felt to me an assault of choice of the same things, that I simply couldn’t cope with nor really wanted to.
Whilst I have been mulling over this subject in my head, it was quite by chance that I had a conversation with an American expat stranger about the very subject. I am not quite sure how we started talking but she quickly got onto the favoured subject of many expats here – the lack of choice in supermarkets. She said the same things I have read on forums. It is all the same stuff, no choice. And it is too expensive. I said I like the supposed limited choice here, supermarkets sell what I need and I am happy not to have to agonise over which one of eight identical things to buy. She clearly disagreed with me and probably thought me a little crazy. She was not an unpleasant person and her thoughts are mirrored by many expats here .
And yet as a city Copenhagen boasts so many individual shops selling different and interesting items, which is often noted by visiting friends. Torvehallerne sells a vast variety of foods and supports many individual producers. There are independent coffee houses all over the place. You just have to poke your nose down a street like Jægersbroggade or Værnesdamsvej or the streets around the University in the city centre to see real choice. Not the choice of different prepacked ham or jar sauces but choices that matter and are a lot more interesting. So what if we eat the same cold meats on top of the same rye bread when we can drink a great cup of coffee in a hyggeligt cafe wearing a vintage dress with a new vase made by a local ceramicist in our shopping bag ready for the bunch of flowers strapped to the back of our bikes from the local florist.
That is what choice is to me. What do you think?
I totally agree with you! The supermarkets here drive me crazy, full of things that no one really needs, and shoe shops drive me nuts, you can go in three different ones and they all sell the same shoes. There is lots of stuff available to buy, but actually very little choice. It’s rare to go anywhere where there are independent shops flourishing, but when you find it it’s a much more pleasant way to shop. Would be very interested in what else you felt was different or has changed since you were last here.
Definitely more observations to come 🙂
I have to agree with you! We have a new Aldi near to us and one criticism a few people have said is that there is a complete lack of choice. I like that, so I’m an Aldi shopper, as well as for the Frikadellen, German products and other slightly different stuff that they have.
Choices are good, but I’d rather save my decision making for the important stuff that matters.
Now, coffee or tea?
I like Aldi too, there were a few foods we liked in Germany so I often pop in for those
I completely agree with you Melanie. I like the limited choice because to me, here is all we need. England has way too much unnecessary choice, as you said cereals for one and too many processed foods not to mention the choice in them. I’ve too written about how I love my butcher, baker and candlestick maker here in DK. 😉
It’s great when you find those perfect shops that specialize and know their stuff.
I’ve lived in a Switzerland since 1980, when I first arrived it was impossible to find ‘English’ produce… which to me was all part of the adventure. Now, local stuff is difficult to find as the shops and supermarkets have gone ‘global” yet still I’ll hear ex-pats complaining that the choice isn’t as good as back home. It’s a terrible shame that people seem to want the ‘foreign experience’, yet can’t cope without the comforts of home. I do miss somethings from England and do stock up on them when I’m there, but they’re kept as treats, not something I have to have every day or my world falls apart!
I also do stock up on things but as time goes by I find I can do without most things from the UK either by finding suitable alternatives or finding new favourites – that said I never say no to a Crunchie!
I wouldn’t have such a problem with lack of choice if it wasn’t also paired with lack of quality. I don’t have the time or money to go to 15 different shops and even if I did the quality is subpar to what I would find back home so it definitely doesn’t seem worth it to me.
There is always good and bad quality everywhere but I do find it easier to find good quality and healthy options here than I did in Berlin and to a certain extent in the UK.
Thanks for your words of choices, It is very important to be careful in making choices. I once told people that do not make choice or decision when you are over happy or angry. Because your choice determines who you are and where you are going in life.