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Eurogoodies and random retail, that's why Lidl is so fantastisch.


HAT did the Germans ever do for us? WApart from, um, invent motorways, create amazing beer, give us some of the world's finest classical music and then there's currywurst, the VW Beetle, that famous Teutonic design and engineering, efficient winning football teams.

And now, arguably the country's finest global legacy - the discount supermarket.

I don't know about you, but in our house we popped the cork on a fine, unassuming, value-for-money, sparkling wine (while mouthing wondrously, "how much was this again?") at news that Lidl has been crowned supermarket of the year.

Barely a day has gone by when I've not made a pilgrimage to the store that opened nearby recently - every trip like a little holiday abroad.

I've looked longingly at haunches of serrano ham, wondering where one could fit in my little kitchen during Lidl's Spain week.

I've worked out the economics of buying an espresso machine during its Italy week, and regretted never parting with the mere PS50-odd it would've cost.

The shelves were stacked with quality olive oil when Greece week was on.

Alpine week heralded unusual beer and a range of Bavarian cured sausages.

And now France week promises a fridge stocked heavily with deepsmelling cheese, which brings with it the question from the other end of the house: "Is there something rotting in the bin?" each time it's opened.

But the best thing, arguably the best thing - apart from the amazingvalue wine and basic household goods - is the aisle of randomness to be found in the middle of each and every Aldi and Lidl around the world.

They used to say you could buy anything you wanted in Harrods. Well, Aldi and Lidl are going some way to challenge that notion.

One week it's DIY stuff, the next cycling gear, gardening tools, furniture, running kit, binoculars, fishing tackle - you name it, they've done it.

Sometimes you go to these places wanting just a pint of milk and half a dozen eggs, and come out with a trolley full of stuff you never even knew existed, regardless of whether you wanted or needed it in the first place.

We bemoaned the Tesco-isation of Britain when the supermarket behemoth's red, white and blue livery was taking over the country.

Its conquering march across Britain saw councils help them build gigantic, pointless out-of-town shopping parks - lured by the promise of job creation and money for local economies.

However, every great power has its end, and much like Rome, the Empire of Tesco is being toppled by canny Germanic tribes - it's just that these ones are bringing egalitarian shopping to Britain.

They were queueing up in their dozens to get through the door of the latest Lidl to open in Cardiff. That's no surprise. Next year, I'm tipping Aldi to be named Britain's best supermarket, if nothing else but for its very good, cheap, bottles of German pilsner - and whatever it manages to fill its aisle of randomness with in the next 12 months.


The Empire of Tesco is being toppled by canny Germanic tribes Aldi and Lidl

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 19, 2015
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