Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Grocery Shopping in Gozo.
Back in the soggy, chilly UK after Gill and I were married shopping would take place usually on a Friday evening after work. We would both be tired following a long hard day at the coal face and not really feel like shopping at all, but it meant we could avoid the hoards that would fill the supermarkets on a Saturday and the opportunity for a lay in the following day.
Then the UK supermarkets started opening 24hrs a day and so we shopped once every 2 weeks. We both hated food shopping so the less time spent in the supermarket the better, the less time spent hearing tuts because you have put your trolley right next to where the young lady with the screaming kids wants to get at. Listen to the check out girl wish you 'have a nice day' not because she means it but because she has been on a customer service course, and they have told her that's what you have to say to the customer to ensure the swift return of that customer.
In recent years we even managed to extend our shopping to once every three weeks, we did of course still need to pick up basics bread, milk etc, but you could get these basics in a newsagent or a petrol station, and your vegetables would last for weeks at a time because that is how they have been designed, sorry grown.
Shopping in Gozo is a different experience altogether, food shopping here takes place at the very least every 2 days and in many cases daily which has the advantage of making the shopping experience short and sweet. The supermarkets here are packed to the doors with produce much of the fresh produce sold is grown within 5 or 10 minutes of the farm that they were grown on, and bought direct from the farmer by the store, the tomatoes can be a bit nobly with blemishes on them but taste delicious and will need to be eaten within a few days. Without the middle man to pay they are cheap, the same can be said of much of the locally grown produce of which plenty is around to choose from.
The supermarkets are dimly lit and the isles are about the width of 1 trolley, the lady behind the till will either be miserable because she is, or full of the joys of life, because she is, she may say have a nice day but that would be because she means it.
Bread needs to be bought fresh every day is top quality and very tasty, the stuff I would buy in the UK could last a week and still be edible. Do I miss the genetically modified, preservative laden, perfect, tasteless looking specimens on sale in UK supermarkets? I would have to say no. I know that Gordon Brown is harping on about the amount of food thrown away by UK families, here in Gozo because we shop on almost a daily basis much less gets thrown away, here in this household it is just non recyclable packaging that gets thrown away.
"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found". Calvin Trillin.