Grocery shopping in Finland – What a nightmare

When I was living in France, I sometimes missed some Finnish food and products, as every Finn living abroad. And when I came for holidays in Finland I was super happy in supermarkets as I could buy rye bread, Finnish crisps, Fazer chocolate and -candies, Karelian  pasties and some cottage cheese. But that’s basically all. I never paid attention on the rest…

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And I also have to mention that when I moved to France in 2009, it didn’t took me very long time to get used to groceries there. Maybe because I already knew the basic French products and have always loved French food… In Christmas-time, each year, it needed more efforts to find good salmon for the ‘Gravlax’, but the rest of the time I liked grocery shopping in France.

When I moved back to Finland this summer, I quickly realized that buying food wasn’t a real pleasure anymore! And here are some reasons for that:

Firstly, there’s too much choice for each product!

It’s not possible to have only one or two milk cartons, or one butter choice, or normal cream or yogurt or what ever….  EVERY SINGLE product has at least two or three brands, and all those brands have the following choices: “low-lactose”, “lactose-free”, “hyla” (another Finnish way to say it doesn’t have a lot fa lactose), “fat-free”, “low-fat”,  “15 % of fat”, “contains less salt”, “without salt”, “light”…

For creams you can find “whipping cream”, “food cream”, “double cream”, “light cream”, “coffee cream” and so on…. Look at those pictures. How in hell you are suppose to find the ‘normal’ and cheapest milk in all those, without spending 10 minutes to read all stickers one by one?!

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And this applies for all products… as coffee, mince, rice, pastas… But it’s especially on dairy-products. And then they wonder why Finns have so much allergies!

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Finns are also big cheese consumers… Only, their cheese doesn’t taste anything! 

Besides that it’s difficult to find the ‘normal’ product trough all this, very often I get quit destabilized because I have some french food in my mind, but I can’t get all the basic products for it, or they are super expensive or bad quality. It’s actually very simple; If you need something “special” you have to go to ‘Stockmann’, the Finnish ‘Galerie Lafayette’, which has a bigger food purchase, with more international, luxury choices…

While living in France, I never thought I would miss so much the bread from there. I was all the time missing Finnish rye bread. But the truth is that the bread is super bad quality here in Finland, and there’s no bakeries where you can get fresh bread on the mornings! They are all packed in plastic bags and sold in supermarkets… And good bread is really difficult to find!

And of course, I miss wine!

It’s so complicated to get wine in here, because only those special Alcohol shops, “Alko”, are allowed to sell stronger drinks than beer. And it’s not allowed to sell alcohol before 9 am and after 9 pm (6 pm on Saturdays!). AND, it’s super expensive! Now, I’m only dreaming about my neighborhoods ‘Lidl’ in Paris, where I bought basic, good red wines at 2 – 3 euros… In Finnish ‘Alkos’ the cheapest French wine I can find is around 8 €. And all Alko-shops doesn’t have the same selection, so if you have found something good in one place, it’s not always sure you’ll find the same wine in another Alko!

This week-end I made some “Boeuf Bourgignon”, with meat which was meant for the Finnish “Karjalanpaisti”, so there was also porc peaces… Anyway, we found it quit good but not as good as if I had made it in France.

Luckily the expensive wine (11€!!) I bought was very good.

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I think it’s not even necessary to mention fruits and vegetables? The sad reality about living in a norther country is that fruits and vegetables are expensive and brought from far, not looking very good and especially not being tasty. So I think I have to wait to be back in France to get a good ‘Ratatouille’….. ?


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