I’m going to have another moan about food shopping in Greece. I just don’t like it. I’ve never liked it, I find it so stressful and it puts me in a grumpy mood all day. (It’s even worse when the husband comes with me, and tags along with me, but that’s another story…) I’m a big fan of British supermarkets, those megastores that are open all day, every day, that sell everything you could ever wish for, and more. I love them!
It’s not so much the opening hours of Greek shops, I can get used to those. Closing for an afternoon siesta is a great idea, and it’s nice to have them open very early in the morning, or even at 11pm, but British superstores do that too. It’s the fact that it’s always pot luck what you will find in the local mini market in Greece. You go with a shopping list, real or imaginary, but rarely do I come away with everything on it. Maybe I’m just too fussy……
Shopping in Greece must be like what it was like in Britain in the 1950s or 60s. You have to go to at least three or four shops to buy everything you need for your evening meal. Butchers, greengrocers, mini-market, bakers. I hate it. I want a huge superstore with wide aisles I can push a trolley round at my leisure, looking at things on the shelves I haven’t seen before, picking up impulse buys and bargains.
Today for example – we have decided to eat aboard again, fifth day running, as Lakka is an expensive place to eat out, and we mustn’t forget we are not actually on holiday…. So for tonight’s meal I decide we’ll have pork chops cooked in the oven with potatoes, plus green beans. In the butchers they have meat on display in the chilled counter, which is at least an improvement over those Greek butcher’s shops where they have nothing but an ancient wooden chopping block on display and everything is kept in the closed chiller or freezer out of sight.
That always stresses me out as firstly, I like to see what I’m buying before I purchase it, and secondly, I’m limited by my Greek words as to what I can ask for. I once asked for two pork chops and ended up with two kilos of pork chops…..
This morning they had a few rather sad looking chops, plus a joint of pork which needed chopping up to separate it into chops. I asked for ‘megala brizola’ which I think meant large chops, so he wouldn’t give me the scrawny loose ones. They end piece of the joint looked a bit dry too, as though it had been left for a while, although I’m sure it was perfectly fresh, and I hoped he wouldn’t give me that one, but of course he did. As I’m British, I wasn’t brave enough to ask the non English speaking Greek butcher to cut me a fresher one, I just let him wrap them up and weigh them, and I paid.
The other day I bought a whole chicken, one of the few other butchery items I can ask for in Greece. Very expensive! A large one cost over eight euros. Back in UK you can buy three for ten pounds in Sainsbury or Asda, or you can even choose three different wrapped meats for ten pounds, which is what I often like to do. In the butchers you don’t know the best before date either, although I’m sure they are perfectly fresh. I was going to buy some fresh beef burgers too, which are Tim’s favourites as they are made with minced topside with hardly any fat, but as they are expensive and there were only two sad looking ones in the tray, I didn’t buy them.
Then back to the tiny minimarket/greengrocer. I know we are on a Greek island, and everything has to be imported, but I hate rooting about to find the best quality apples, onions or nectarines. They keep a lot of it in a chiller overnight, so when they get it out the next day, the fruit is covered in condensation and goes off quickly. They never seem to weed out the poor quality items- if they did that I guess there’d be nothing left to sell, but the spring onions looked like they’d outlived their life, and there were only two sad leeks on display. It’s so hit and miss whether you can get what you want. Today the potatoes looked great, and the courgettes, but no beans of any sort. There was one sad looking yellow melon, and the watermelon portions looked like they’d been there over the weekend.
Inside the mini-market, the prices differ widely from shop to shop, with almost a euro difference on the large sized milk. Instant coffee is consistently a different price! I know we are in Greece and maybe we shouldn’t look for British goods, but now and again you just want some breakfast cereal, but Weetabix is non existent, or if you can find it. almost five euro a box! One thing they seem to sell loads of, is dried pasta, probably for the Italian holidaymakers, but this is one place I don’t need to buy spaghetti in ten different thicknesses!