In England I experienced my first grocery store experience. It didn’t seem like much difference or highlight in my journey until I began to look more closely at the shelves. For instance, I love orange juice with high pulp. In Britain, however, it’s not called pulp, but bits. One thing that you should notice right away is the amount of country labels plastered over all the shelves! I don’t mean to sound negative (because I don’t really have a solid side on any of these nationalism debates), but I do think it was a bit excessive in some areas. There were bag of chips (or crisps as the Brits call them), water, or milk that kept emphasising their “Britishness.” Being a political science major, I am quite interested in the relation of expressions of nationalism to globalisation, american hegemony, and economics. That is: are the bottles of water labeled as “purely British” as a marketing gimmick to sell the brand OR was it due to deeper socio-cultural notions of superiority or incompatibility? Great paper I could see myself writing in a few months. I’ll let you guys know how that goes!
It was interesting to see familiar brands, but with slightly different labelling along with discovering new products with weird and outlandish flavours. In addition to different names for similar food attributes (eg. bits/pulp), there were things like roast chicken and garlic flavoured chips and orange-cream-filled chocolate bars that immediately caught my eye. The way the food was stored was also a bit of a surprise. Things like eggs weren’t always stored on refrigerated shelves, but were instead being kept at room temperature. Also, growing up by the sea, I’ve seen seafood on ice, but never so far away from the sea and in such quantities (I lived near a market street that was lined with all types of meat and seafood sitting in open-air displays).
For the most part, I’m still alive and the food is delicious, so maybe all the extra-sterile advertisement in the U.S. isn’t as all that it’s hyped up to be?