ONE thing that is noticeable in Spain and in complete contrast to the UK, is the laid back atmosphere in the supermarkets at this time of year.
Visit Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s or any of the other big supermarket outlets anywhere in England right this minute, and I am prepared to bet my week’s pocket money that it will be as manic as Michael McIntyre plugged into the mains.
Even Christmas Eve, when occasionally I have had to drop in to our local Dial Prix for some last minute stuffing mix or a bottle of cooking sherry, it has never been anything other than business as usual.
We took some friends to Iceland in Torrevieja recently and like many ex-pats, they love all the familiar products on offer from back home.
It’s a store that we personally visit infrequently – perhaps two or three times a year –but as the cat’s pantry needed stocking up with some of their preferred canned food, we thought a trip was due.
For my part, there is nothing I like more than a good old British pork pie and always use the opportunity to buy one for immediate use as a taster, and another as a main course.
But some of the frozen stuff on display leaves me utterly confused and puzzled. I mean, there is a complete aisle of nothing but frozen sliced bread.
That’s seven freezers full of what is, let’s face it, frozen white or brown floppy cardboard. Understandable if there is no alternative to white or brown floppy cardboard, but here in Spain where the fresh bread is simply wonderful. Why?
Then you have frozen shepherd’s pies, or bangers and mash, or baked spuds for goodness sake. How hard or time consuming is it to knock any of these uncomplicated meals together?
Amazingly you have bags of grated cheese. But look, here’s a tip: buy a block of cheese grate it (a grater is that shiny metal thing with holes in it) bung it in a bag and it’s all done. Three minutes tops and much cheaper.
Anyways up, we emerged a half hour later; our friends with their supplies and us with some cat food, two pork pies and one hundred and seven euro’s poorer.
Why? Because of all the other ‘must have’ items that we cannot find anywhere else and which, being Christmas, are just perfect for when we are entertaining. That’s why.
My flexible friend is still groaning in my wallet with a pulled muscle and a very high temperature.