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.


Ilene Springer said...

I really like your post on shopping in Gozo. I have always hated grocery shopping, too, in the US. I'm planning to move to Malta this October,08. But I'll be moving to the main island. I hope I like the daily shopping! Please visit me at my blog--www.an-american-in-malta. Maybe I can quote what you said about shopping in my blog--with a link to your blog, of course. Please let me know.

Kate Connor said...

Hi there,
I'm getting married in Malta in April 2009 (10 weeks today!) and will be coming to Gozo for my honeymoon for a week.
Would it be possible to get a little more info on where to go shopping etc and if there's certain days, or time in the day that this is not possible?

Many Thanks!

Steve Holmes said...

Hi Kate, congrats on the wedding I hope you enjoy your day.
If you go to the main Market Square in Victoria the (capital)you will find the market, in the narrow streets to the rear of the market you will find all the local shops selling everything from jewelry to to lace and locally made produce. Walk down the hill from the market and you will find a new shopping Mall just opened this year called 'The Duke' it is not large by UK or US standards, but you will find clothes, shoes etc.
If you are looking goods for aimed at tourists, the Ta' Dbiegi Craft Village located close to the Kempinski Hotel near the village of Gharb (pronounced arb), this has a number of small shops showing and selling things like locally made jewelry, pottery, leather, stone, ironwork, lace and glass and local art. Don't expect to much, remember this is a very small Island. If I can help you any more don't hesitate to contact me.

Steve Holmes said...

Almost forgot opening times, very little opens on a Sunday. During the week many shops (although not all) close between noon and 4.00pm then reopen until 7.00pm.

Ilene Springer said...

Hi there, Kate. Also keep in mind that in general, retail stores are open from 9 Am to 1 PM and then they reopen from 4 to 7 PM. In between, everyone has a siesta. Best of luck with your wedding--Ilene from An-American-in-Malta.com.

Kate Connor said...

Thank you both for you helpful comments - I will make note of these!
Is there easy access to the capital via buses?

Many Thanks,

Steve Holmes said...

All buses go to Victoria, but the bus service is not very regular.
Many of the hotels run a free minibus shuttle service to and from Victoria.
Are you staying in a hotel?

Kate Connor said...

We're staying in a Villa...I can't quite remember which part of Gozo we're staying at off the top of my head! I've heard that the taxis can sometimes be a little...'dodgy' but the person who told me that went to Gozo years ago so lots may have changed since then!

Steve Holmes said...

Since joining the EU a lot has changed on the Maltese Islands, the taxi fairs are published on a board in Victoria in the market square listing the fair from Victoria to all the villages. I can not remember the prices off hand, but they did not seem over expensive. The buses on the other hand are very cheap, under €0.50c. If you look under links on my blog page you will find Gozo information link, click on that select the union jack flag for English and then select transport from the left hand menu, there you will find bus timetables and prices.