Thursday, May 10, 2007

Things that cannot be bought at my local Albert Heijn

Albert Heijn (AH) classify their size of store from 1-5 (1 being the smallest, 5 being the biggest). The store nearest me is categorised as a size 4, so you’d expect it to be pretty big and stock pretty much everything you’d need or want. Not so.

Here’s a list of things I’m not able to find in my local Albert Heijn:

Lamb
No Lamb of any variety: no minced lamb, diced lamb, lamb steak, lamb chops. Nothing. Amsterdam is full of Turks, you’d think they would want to buy some lamb? Oh I forgot, everyone in Holland has the time to traipse around the butchers, bakers and candlestick maker’s shops every single day to get their groceries.

Limes
My Albert Heijn always stock lemons, oranges, mangoes and pomegranates, but no limes.

Fruit Squash / Ribena
I don’t understand what kids drink here. Parents have the option of buying either really expensive fruit juices, or carbonated drinks for their kids. The other option, which I wouldn’t go near, is something like the French Diablo, which the Dutch call Sirop, and is pure sugar in a tin. I guess they just rely on good old fashion milk, and chocolate milk (also full of sugar).


Double or Single Cream
There’s only whipping cream, sour cream and crème fraiche here in the Netherlands it seems. And you’d never pour whipping cream on an apple pie, as that would be sacrilege, you MUST whip it first. (Oh yes and rather hilariously whipped cream translates into Dutch as "slagroom"!)

Pantene Hair Products
I was truly astounded at this one. Procter and Gamble what are you doing to me? The hair product aisle in my category 4 Albert Heijn is four shelves high by about 8 products wide and includes L’Oreal, Dove and something called Andrélon (made by Unilever) which dominates the shelf in garish purple packaging. Compare this to the hair product range in my old Tesco in London which was about 10 metres wide and had every product under the sun, except Andrélon.

Serious Breakfast Cereals
First, it’s impossible to by a box of cereal over 500g. It’s like buying mini cereal boxes from a Kellog’s selection pack. I need to buy two boxes to last the week. And talking of selection, don’t get me started on the range of cereals available in Holland. The narrow shelf here has Fruit and Fibre, “Cruseli”, Jordans Muesli (pronounced in the not-so Biggleswade/Bedfordshire accent of “Yoordaans”), Cornflakes, Special K and something based on sawdust. Weetabix, if available, only comes in boxes of 12 – that would last one person only six days – does everyone in Holland live alone?

12 comments:

Albert Heijn said...

The Dutch grocery stores are known to have little variety. It must be a pain. Maybe you'll have luck in a size 5, or not, lol.

Travis Choma said...

Hehe, I enjoyed your article on Albert Hein, being a Canadian expat in Amsterdam it took my a while to get used to the differences at the AH... another interesting thing is how hard it is to buy ice/ice cubes for a party, we usually have to ask a local bar to fill up a plastic bag full of ice. Although this year i see the Gall & Gall in Dam square advertising it on their board out front as if its something new :-)

Elaine Sipos said...

Actually, at my local AH I have no problem with limes or lamb. Cream is a problem but Kingsalmarkt usually solves that problem (or any other one) if I'm desperate. One thing about AH is that every one is slightly different - even in terms of the quality of produce. Of the three that are close to me, one is clearly ahead of the others - it is also a nicer/richer neighbourhood. In this case size doesn't always matter.

sarah said...

I used to live in Holland and found that i too missed all of these things! However, now that i have moved back to England I find theres so many dutch things i miss! Chocomel for one! Its weird how things work out...

Mike said...

You're mostly right, I spent some time in London it was awesome. Stores like Sainsburry's blow AH away.

Victoria Raw said...

I live in Breda so I think we have a 4 (maybe a 3?) You can get sugar-free "sirop" to make squash. I hate sugary drinks but the sugar-free one isn't too bad. I miss Robinson's sugar-free apple and blackberry though! As for the cream, it's only in the UK (as far as I know) where you do get single and double. In the US it's heavy (for whipping) or light (like thick milk). They also have Half & Half in the US which I LOVE in my coffee but, nope, can't get that here either. I am similarly annoyed about the lamb. You can get it in the Jumbo but that's further away from me and since I don't drive, a hassle. There is one butcher here which is organic (no prices on anything) and one CHICKEN SHOP selling dead pieces of chickens. Seriously. I miss tons of things from the UK but visit occasionally and buy them in bulk. I never appreciated Tesco or Sainsbury enough before. Oh, I forgot to mention Aldi. In our local one you can get everything from ski-suits to laptops. But NO LIMES!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

the supermarkets sell things that are most wanted. why sell cereal when no one really buys the product. i remember eating bread, 'beschuit' or 'ontbijtkoek' for breakfast. never cereal. so no wonder you cant get it! and thats a thing that i miss in supermarkets here- just some nice bread

Victoria R. said...

Hilarious! And oh so true. Greetings from a fellow Brit in Breda. And yes, it's the same here except we don't even have a 4, I think our largest is a 2, or perhaps a 3. Whatever it is, there is no lamb but there are about 14 types of pork. I bet all the local Turks and Muslims love that (not). However we do have limes!

Anonymous said...

Hi!
I am Dutch, but currently living in the UK. And I think it's just a matter of what you are used to. I miss loads of dutch things and find loads of English things odd. I love the AH in my town in Holland. It has got everything I need. In the UK on the other hand, I am forced to go to bigger towns to get specific stuff, because the small sainsbury's or cooperative's don't sell what I like. I also hate the giagantic supermarkets because they are so busy. So, basically, it's just what you are used to. And it makes you apreciate little things. You think we are a bit odd and I feel a bit the same about the Brits ;)

ToniGurl said...

This is so true..An American Au Pair in Holland and I had to look up the word for the heavy whipping cream and ended up here.

I havent seen Lime in our stores, were level 3 though, not surprising. The one in town is a 4 but I don't recall seeing one there is either. I'm in the Hague though

Karen Greyling said...

Another thing I can't find in my AH is regular icing sugar! Not the type used to make a runny glaze but the real stuff for thick butter cream. I end up going to the South African store in Amersfoort.

Melissa Skates said...

cant find ranch dressing