It’s official. British supermarkets are the best. Obviously I haven’t conducted a thorough or even unbiased study on the subject, but from my experiences on holiday in Europe, and living in the Far East and now the Middle East, it’s beyond doubt; no supermarkets in any of those locations come close to the ones back home.
I think it comes down to the range of products on offer. This afternoon, I popped into Sainsbury’s to pick up some sausages for my son. I just wanted a pack of good quality pork bangers. I struggled to find them. Did I want ones with apple in? Or caramelized onion? Or leek? Or even mustard? Well no, not really. I just wanted good old-fashioned pig in them.
In the end, I settled for finest pork with a hint of sage and nutmeg. From my son’s perspective, they could just have well have contained a hint of Tom & Jerry. He just fancied sausages.
The point is, there is just so much choice. It’s impossible to drop in for a pint of milk and a newspaper without also picking up coronation chicken, lemon tarts and an extra-large bottle of Pimms, just because you can. You can even buy clothes. And saucepans. And garden furniture. It’s amazing.
The downside of this of course is that supermarket shopping seems to have become a national sport for the British. Whatever day or time it is, people congregate in droves to see what’s on offer this week or what’s new. People swarm the aisles in search of those extra Nectar points, or whatever bogus big brother loyalty scheme is currently de rigueur.
Ready meals are no longer restricted to ready-to microwave trays of limp looking lasagne. In Waitrose, you can choose your Italian favourite by region! If you fancy a curry, you can choose Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Indonesian or even Birmingham’s finest. Ok so that last bit was perhaps a fib, but I bet someone somewhere is considering it.
And the greatest revelation about shopping in a British supermarket for the first time in a year?
I was asked if I was over 25 and therefore legally allowed to purchase the bottle of red wine in my basket.
It’s the most amazing complement I’ve ever been paid.