When we first moved to Playa Blanca in Lanzarote in 2006, shopping was more limited than it is now. Of course you had fabulous farmers’ markets… local butchers and veggie shops further up the Island, but down in Playa Blanca you were limited to a sprinkling of premium price supermarkets. Back then we did most of our shopping in Marcial (now called Spar – thanks to Amy-Louise for reminding me of the name), the Spar at Punta Limones… and a couple of independent butchers and fruterias.
This was quite a shock to my system as I’d hardly ever cooked from scratch – and so had to learn very quickly. Of course I could do a decent roast dinner or a Spaghetti Bolognese… but we generally had formerly eaten out 3 or 4 times a week in England, and the convenience of larger supermarkets made it pretty easy for other options. So learn to cook I did – and indeed now 95% of our dishes are cooked freshly and using local produce.
Nowadays in Playa Blanca, there are a couple of decent sized Hiperdinos (local supermarket chain) and a Ropers (fab for fresh veg, frozen produce, and with a good meat counter and delicatessen. Rumour has it that Mercadona will also be arriving in 2013). Of course the fish, seafood, meat etc is all fantastic… but occasionally you want something a bit different – or perhaps a taste of childhood. “Foreign” brands and ingredients, are now easily available however – albeit at a higher price.
We were happy with all that… and did what we could without complaint. I had learned to cook… and I really enjoy it. Then we moved to Almería and discovered Mercadona. Ooooh… Mercadona with its aisles and aisles of variety and fayre at way cheaper prices than we’d been used to. Our nearest town is Albox, which contains a number of British supermarkets too… The Corner Shop, Pricebusters, Eurowise and Sol Supermercado all spring to mind immediately. I’ll admit that I was surprised that a Spanish town could support so many British shops, but the population here seems to be able to carry it. In these shops you can get all sorts of goodies that our tastebuds had forgotten even existed. More to the point… they are not much more expensive than if we were shopping in the UK.
So we’ve been enjoying a few “tastes from Blighty”. Crunchy peanut butter, bakewell tart, Golden Grahams, various biscuits. There’s even an Iceland in a nearby town! Would we do our weekly shop at these places? No of course not – that’s crazy talk. But if we want a few treats – we’ll have them!
Well – this is all very matter of fact… but my moan is those individuals that declare that you should not be partaking in these goodies, and instead should be solely embracing the local produce. Well… yes we live in Spain… and we do of course eat local most of the time. But if I want to eat English food I will. When living in the UK we ate Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, French, German, Greek, Turkish, Jamaican and many other cuisines. We didn’t live on roast dinners, fish & chips, and Cornish pasties (yuck)!! Does living in a country mean you can’t eat food from another? No it doesn’t. Personally I’d rather enjoy a varied diet. We eat albondigas, puntillas, estofado, rabbit, paella… and a great many more Spanish recipes.
So Expats (and you know who you are)… don’t be so bloody snobby! I’m off to make a cup of tea with an English teabag and perhaps a slice of Marmitey toast! Might even pop on some English speaking telly to watch while I’m at it!