Swedish Ost

If you are someone like myself grocery shopping is never a very fun experience. This gets even more painful when you are trying to navigate your way around a shopping centre in another country. From desperately trying to figure out which type of meat is which and constantly examining food packages for some type of explanation or description about the product, the long list of unpleasant factors does outweigh the positives.

Now most of the time you can find what you are looking for, but there does come a point in time when you do crave a classic food item from back home that is just impossible to get.  As for meat pies, now this is something that I have been craving now for months and months. I never really thought I would crave a pie so much, I would take anything at this point, even your dodgy heat up frozen pies would do the trick. A couple of hundred party pies maybe? Maybe Sweden could replaces their obsession with Ost (cheese) and throw a couple of pies into the picture every now and then.

The Swedes love their Ost (cheese), for breakfast most mornings people will pull out the big block of cheese and slap it down on the table. The cheese will usually be accompanied by some bread, meat of some sort like ham or salami, boiled eggs and the final touch of both tomato and cucumber. I kind of like this type of food for breakfast so I was pretty stoked when I found out that this was the norm. The same applies in hotels here, if you book into any hotel in Sweden breakfast is usually included in the overall price. I have stayed a heap of hotels here and have sampled all of the breakfasts on offer. The standard line up is breads, cheese, eggs (boiled), sausages, bacon, some fish like herring, yogurt, meats like ham and salami, tomato, cucumber and capsicum. Why they have these three vegetables is unknown to me, but without fail they are on offer in every hotel in Sweden.

I am getting off track again! So the Swedes love for ost brings me to another event that happened one day when I was grocery shopping. God help us we ran out of ost, so I went down to the shops to get another block. Now the pricing system here is all by per kilo, once again they have to make it very hard to understand what the hell is going on. So I turn up to the shops and walk into the ost section, which is absolutely massive, there is every type of cheese. I manage to just match up the cheese from the packaging we had back home, but what I can't understand it why some HUGE blocks of ost are so much less expensive that these little blocks? I had not known about this per kilo crap at this point, all I thought was that if they are advertising that price for the piece of cheese, then that is the final price right?

So I manage to take a huge block of cheese, all it said, well all I could make out was 65 SEK which is only around 9 dollars not too bad yeah? This thing could have killed someone if you had dropped it on their head. So I grab some other stuff and then proceed to the counter. I place the cheese and the rest of my items down, forgetting to place that little wooden block behind me so the next person behind could offload their shopping. Well it was as if I had committed the ultimate sin, this old man behind me gave me the worst look of all time and shook his head? Sorry old timer I did not know that it was such a big inconvenience to place your own f*#king block down! This had already gotten me into a twist, but things were going to get worse. I go through the checkout and the girl scans all my items and then just throws them down counter, nothing was bagged and half of my items by this point were probably destroyed. I give her a strange look as she tells me the price which I could not understand. So I just swipe my card and she hands me the receipt with a very blank unimpressed look on her face, nice girl.

I get down to the end of the counter where my food has been thrown and there are no bags to put any of my stuff in. I was like so wtf am I going to do? Just shove all this stuff into my pockets? The cheese alone would have pulled my pants straight off if I had attempted to do that. So I ask her "where are the bags?" Mind you I kind of cut in front of my new friend behind me as he was trying to pay for his food. This was strike two in his book. She tells me that the bags are down underneath the counter. Okay so I grab three bags and proceed to walk off, SLUTA! SLUTA! (stop, stop ) You have to pay for those! Oh yeah that would be right, so I handed over 3 SEK. By this point I had committed strike 3 according to my old friend, and I am sure I looked like a complete criminal in the eyes of the Swedish people watching.

So I pack all my stuff up and start to walk out to the car. I put all my bags down and realise I am still holding the receipt in my hand. I unfold the piece of paper and see that for a few measly grocery's I had been charged over 300 SEK! (60 AUD). I look at the price of the bloody cheese and see that they have charged me yep, per kilo!

200 SEK for a block of cheese! 40 dollars for cheese, I was not going to give her the satisfaction and take it back, looking like a total fool. My old mate friend was probably still there bagging me out to the rest of the line. So I had to suck it up and keep on driving, but from that moment on ost was on the menu every meal of the day. My cholesterol from consuming that block of cheese has probably cut some years off my life! 


rebecca said...

This hilarious and SO true...if you don't know the secret Swedish shopping habits everyone looks at you like you're an alien. And as for the cheese here, I still have no idea what kind of cheese is what. I once stood in front of the cheese section for like 20 minutes, translating all the names into English via my phone dictionary. Didn't help so much when all I got was "house" cheese, "priest" cheese, "field" cheese, etc...

Tim Findlay said...
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MadEnglishWoman40 said...

This almost made me laugh out loud! There is such a lot of stupid etiquette about shopping in Sweden. My boyfriend said we should line up the barcodes for the cashier so they would fine it easier to scan them, but I said NO WAY. That's what they're paid for, no?

As for household cheese, just the name sounds vile. I too have seen that. I think judging by the size, it's for a whole block of flats, not just one household.

Just remember-select your bags as the cashier is saying "Hey" (unless they're particularly miserable). Tell them loudly how many you've got, then chuck them down the belt, to pack after you've paid.

And for Gods sake don't forget the little block next time, or you might end up paying for the old guy's cheese too :-D

Tim Findlay said...
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