Monday, 6 July 2009

Grocery shopping, the same all over the world, or is it?

Yeah, I know. A mind-disengagingly, boring task anywhere. Well for most people anyway.

E and I seem to get a kick out of it. It's a first stop-off, no matter where we go. I say that you can always tell how a country is by its supermarkets or lack-thereof.. and Spain is a food lovers paradise, so go figure that it would be instant gratification for us just doing the weekly shop.

Well, that was how it was until our busy lives caught up on us, forcing one or the other to do it alone. Not as much fun, alone.. I'm mean, somethings are meant to be done together. A long list of things comes to mind.. Yet, it ended up either being a) a strange guiri dashing through the aisles with her yellow-luminous post-its, hell bent on doing it as fast as possible (yep, my record was 34 mins for a full shop) or b) a tired-Spick whose face would light up with all the food that wasn't on the efficiently e-mailed shopping list or that already could be found in the laden shelves at home. Definitely not fun.

So where did the fun go? Most probably when the whole convenience food came..
When I arrived here, I would spend hours on end wandering around supermarkets mesmerized by the different food brands and lack thereof (I still can't stop giggling when I see Bimbo bread and reckon that Cif should still be Jif). I simply couldn't understand why their milk was on shelves and not in the fridge and why most supermarkets were rather empty of food and variety. For students in those days, it was hell. On earth.

Later, I discovered that supermarkets were not the places that the *real* people in Spain shopped. Heaven forbid if you even considered buying meat in the supermarket. For fresh stuff like that, you had to go to the market. The idea of convenience food was pizzas, chinese noodles and a millions of types of croquettes. Convenience it wasn't - rather *sin*venience - too much hassle and oil for a student.

So what happened? Globalisation, I guess. Or one rather smart market analyst who saw a gap market and a growing trend. I suppose it goes to figure, since the average working week is a minimum of 40 hours, and food customs (main meal in the middle of the day, and evening meal at 22h) meant that no one has enough time to go to the market (generally closed before 20h, unlike the supermarkets that open until 9 or 10 at night), let alone cook anymore. So it's a case of cartons of ready-made gaspazcho, cellophaned torillas, even callos a la abuela (tripe in a murky looking sauce that looks like anything but home-made by your granny - she'd turn in her grave, she would). The markets are fighting back, trying to employ celebrities to advertise the advantages of going local (better quality, fresher produce) but who can fight against price given the current aroma of the economic crisis?
It's one of the changes in Spain that I don't like at all. That's why going to Tortosa with its local market (with produce that has just hopped off the field) makes my mouth water for the fresh crunchy greens. Yet, there's other days (when I couldn't be bother to cook - yep, it happens to me too) that I'm glad I've got a tin of tuna in the house..

I guess it goes without saying that if a sign of a country is its supermarket (in my eyes), it won't be long before we all speak Spanglish.. :-/

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails