One of the exciting things about moving abroad is the difference in food shopping because different cultures eat differently.
And one of the annoying things about moving abroad is not being able to get things that you really can not manage without.
That probably explains why half the Brits in Andalucia make a regular pilgrimage to Morrisons in search of, well, whatever they can’t manage without.
I should say, at this point, that I did not visit Morrisons (then Safeway) from Spain until we came to live in Gib.
In Spain there are a few supermarkets to be found all over the place – Mercadona, Eroski and Supersol. There are others, and in Andalucia at any rate, there is a good network of Covirans which is a franchise. It’s also moved into Gib, interestingly.
When we were first on our house hunt, we were passing Mercadona and remarked that we thought it was a good supermarket. The estate agent replied, it was good quality and it was cheap. Spaniards so love cheap.
Mercadona has a lot of own brand stuff – Hacendado – which, with the exception of the espresso coffee and perborato (bleach to add to laundry) I don’t particularly like. The bagged salads are ok, prices ranging from 80 cents for a basic salad to 1.35 for brotas tiernas, but that’s a last resort when the garden is empty. I’ll buy Bosque Verde kitchen towels and toilet rolls and the pan rustica – in the two for 90 cents bag. So that’s the extent of my shopping in Mercadona.
Eroski has hypermarkets and central shops. I haven’t been for ages. I try and avoid the hypermarket like the plague. Nasty large supermarket. Eroski has a loyalty card – Travel. Pronounced Tra – vel. Not travel. They seem to have adopted the Telefonica approach with this one though. You give them your passport number to get a card and when you try and do anything later on, your passport number is wrong. Yes, that’s right, you do not have the correct passport number in front of you that you are reading off, only Eroski has the correct number and yours is wrong. So that’s an awful lot of travel points that we won’t be cashing in due to not knowing our own passport numbers.
I forgot to mention Carrefour. There is one about 15-20 kms from us in Spain and one in La Linea. Never visited either of them and don’t plan to.
Which brings me to Supersol and Coviran. There are both in our small village to my never-ending surprise. I buy cheap olives from Coviran and not much else. I buy rather more from Supersol.
Supersol is actually a good quality supermarket. Like all supermarkets, it has own brand products, most of which are pretty good. Better quality than Hacendado, apart from the above mentioned products of course, IMO. Unlike Mercadona though, it does sell a variety of decent quality non-branded products. You live in a small Spanish village and you want Twinings tea? No problem. Or Tabasco? Yes, you can buy that too. And excellent tomato juice. But what I really like are their capers. Oddly enough, it is exactly the same brand as I used to buy in the UK from Out of this World. Delicias – that is the brand, not the description.
I went the other day and couldn’t see any. I asked the guy on the checkout. ‘No quedan,’ he said. There aren’t any left. But he happily wandered over to double check, then went to look at the spices, and picked up a jar of pimientas. When he finally worked out they were whole peppers and not capers he put them back. I think he needs glasses.
They didn’t have our favourite Mozzarella either – Galbani – which uses non-animal rennet. I wondered. Were they changing what products they stocked?
‘The next thing to go will be the Poupon mustard,’ said Partner pessimistically.
We didn’t actually need any mustard but I looked on my next trip down to the shops. No mustard. Still no capers. Still no mozzarella.
We visited the local town and dived into Supersol. I greedily took three jars of Poupon mustard. Kindly, I left one on the shelf for any other Poupon addicts.
Back in the village they had restocked with Delicias capers. I snagged some of those. No mustard or mozzarella though.
I can live without mozzarella. I can not live without Delicias capers. I certainly can not live without Poupon mustard which is without doubt, the best Dijon mustard in the world.
This is the mustard that sorts out any hollandaise or mayonnaise glitches. The mustard that makes brilliant dressings. And sauces. Or if you just want to use it as mustard – great on sandwiches or with grills.
Grey Poupon mustard – water, mustard grains, white wine (20%), and salt, plus a few crappy preservative things, but not many.
We first encountered it in Sydney more than 25 years ago when we bought sliced meats from Mr Grumpy and bought the mustard as well to add to the sandwiches. I’ve never been without it since then.
For those of you interested in global companies and all that, it seems that Poupon has been owned by Kraft foods since 1999. Great! A class 200+ year old mustard firm owned by cheesy Kraft slices. But even worse, its nearest competitor, Maille, is owned by the evil Unilever, one of those corporate giants that make a living out of animal testing. I will have to do without mustard if I can’t get my hands on Poupon.
So Supersol, please, please do not stop stocking Poupon. I can’t buy it anywhere else near to me in Spain and I can’t buy it in Gib at all.