Groceries at Ikea

Ikea’s grocery section is the anybodies version of the Fortnum & Mason or Harrod’s food floors. Instead of stopping in to get some Gentleman’s Relish after the exhausting effort of buying a flimsy $1,700 scarf, you can pick up a jar of pickled herring after the equally taxing effort of buying a flimsy $200 shelf.

Ikea is in the business of essentials

Or so they say. Their food floor (if you can call Ikea’s grocery section that) is full of Swedish food essentials (though my sister uses their frozen meatballs in her spaghetti sauce).

Besides Ikea’s famous meatballs, there’s gravlax and gravlax sauce, fish paste in a tube, ginger cookies, elk shaped pasta, thin sliced rye bread, and lingonberry everything (half of Sweden’s agriculture must be devoted to this crop if Ikea shelves are anything to go by). You can get penny candy (or rather, dollar candy). I didn’t learn if they call those soft rubber-like candies Swedish berries or not. Maybe they call them Canadian berries. And sometimes there’s free chocolate samples. But this last time I bought their ketchup because I was out, which happens every three or four years.

Is KETCHUP an essential?

Ronald Reagan, on being told America’s children risked something like scurvy if they relied on the school cafeteria for fruit and vegetables, is reported to have solved the problem by suggesting that ketchup is a vegetable (never mind that tomatoes are a fruit). So yes, there are people for whom ketchup is more important than the TORSBY table it sits on.

On my own essential scale, ketchup less essential than tea towels, tea lights, and toilet bowl brushes but more essential than imitation Persian carpets and closet organizers.

I assume this is the same ketchup, along with a matching ball park mustard, they make available for those $1.00 hot dogs served in what they like to call their bistro next to the grocery section. But with this retail version you get Ikea’s package design treatment – Scandinavian minimalist. I’m sure it looks great in the AKURUM cupboard.

It tastes fine too, but, then, I am not a ketchup aficionado. To my mind, it’s not too sweet, too tart or too runny. The colour is that bright red you expect and want from this condiment. It’s got enough sugar and vinegar to have it last a lifetime in the cupboard, though there are those people who believe it must go in the fridge (my fridge is too full of perishable and, judging by their length of stay, non-essential condiments).

I’m not sure how much of Ikea’s food is exactly essential – like that Swedish cracker, the one the size of a hubcap and as hard as one. But when I need ketchup again – in about three years – I’d buy Ikea’s. The size is right (500 g), it’s only $2.79, and no assembly required.