Groceries in Spain

My resolve to live on bread and mortadela lasted all of a few hours, after which I went grocery shopping. Food prices in Europe will never stop being a pleasant surprise. I bought all this for €21:

The raspberries alone would be $3.95 at home. Foie gras pate! Crab sticks! Banana yoghurt! Does anybody know why there’s no banana yoghurt in the States? I tell sad, nostalgic stories about banana yoghurt and banana ice-cream to my kid but she’s never tasted them.

Also, raspberries taste like raspberries and not plastic.

The hotel is at €61 a night, breakfast included, and there’s a real little kitchen in the suite with a stove, refrigerator, utensils, and even a kettle. And there’s a laundry room! The hotel is located in the historic center, 100 feet from Plaza Mayor.

Very pleasant prices, in short. Except for the shoes. Those were very expensive but I don’t have a choice. I like to walk a lot. I covered over 15 km on foot today, and it would be a lot more if I weren’t jet lagged and still recovering from the injury caused by my broken shoe. I can’t wear anything that has the slightest chance of rubbing or causing discomfort.


23 thoughts on “Groceries in Spain

  1. “Food prices in Europe will never stop being a pleasant surprise”

    I remember when it was the other way around and being surprised at how high food prices were in Europe…

    “raspberries taste like raspberries and not plastic”

    I wonder what food in the states would even taste like to me now…. a few years ago a student talked to me before going to spend the summer with relatives in the US. I thought I prepared her for the food but when she came back she complained that everything had a weird chemical aftertaste even ‘fresh’ vegetables (not to mention the many completely tasteless foods like ‘tomatoes’ or ‘eggs’…).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The secret tends to be growing them yourself. Salad tomatoes are often bland because they’re force-grown and preserved in special temperature-controlled storage. The best vegetables and fruits will always be found in-season, and are often best if they can be found locally.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah, I grow tomatoes for that reason. The ones in the stores are just pretending to be tomatoes. The trick is to find a variety that’s well adapted to your region’s weather. Here it’s the Everglades tomato– they’re the size of marbles, but the heat doesn’t kill them and they’re delicious.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have found good tomatoes in the U S in only two places. Either a farmers’ market, or sometimes in an organic grocery store. The thing to look for is heirloom varieties, Not all heirloom tomatoes qualify as good, but some do. Aside from that, growing heirloom varieties yourself is an option.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Tomatoes in the average American supermarket aren’t truly ripened. They put them into a machine that hits them with a gas to turn them red prematurely because to let them redden (ripen) naturally would take too long. So they’re really green tomatoes that have been turned red.

        As for processed foods, I try to avoid them and eat natural. However, even there you can have a nutritional disadvantage because the way they are grown they don’t get the nutrients (or hence the flavor) of properly-grown produce.

        I have been thinking a good business opportunity could be found in bringing food made at European standards to American people.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember a Belgian student at a summer program I went to, crying with homesickness because “everything tastes too sweet. even the bread”.

      They’re not wrong though. I’ve lived here all my life, and even I get a chemical aftertaste… from most brands of butter. You’d think butter, one ingredient, couldn’t be screwed up. But no. Cabot and Challenge brands are OK. Everything else is trash. I have no idea what they do to it. Is it the chemicals they use to clean the bulk tanks?

      Coming back to US food was the hardest part of every overseas trip I made. Our meat isn’t even the right color. What are we doing to make it this bad?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “sad, nostalgic stories about banana yoghurt”

    First, there is a great opening line to a short story hidden in there…

    Secondly IIRC the “banana” flavoring used in the US was based on a cultivar that is no longer commercially grown and doesn’t taste like available bananas and as a result banana as a flavoring declined in popularity…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember trying to say all this here on the blog back in 2010-11 and readers almost ate me alive. Folks, I go to Spain, eat more than I do in the US and lose weight every single time. My sister comes to visit me in the US, eats less than usual and always gains. There’s something wrong with the food. I’m not saying this to hurt anyone’s feelings but it’s what I’ve been observing for 2 decades. I’m glad it’s finally ok to say it.


      1. At least part of it is ag. subsidies and extremely permissive rules about what can be sprayed on food, both as crops in the field, and as disinfecting/cleaning agents in packing plants. But it’s also shipping– hardly anything’s even remotely fresh.

        My husband and I both ate royally the year we lived in Peru, and we both lost weight. Neither of us was overweight to begin with– we just got leaner. He had the sexiest abs. I was pregnant for most of that time, struggled to gain enough weight, and after the baby I weighed 10# less than before pregnancy. Gained another 30 or so after coming back to the states. And not because the food is better :/

        Wish you could get lucuma here. Or decent chard. I ate so much chard that year.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. If you ever make it to Peru again…

            I don’t think they ship well. In Peru, it’s one of the standard yogurt bebible/icecream flavors, much the way you’ve been talking about banana while you travel. Vainilla, fresa, lucuma… those are the ones you’ll find everywhere. See?


            Lucuma tastes vaguely like maple syrup. But nicer. I never really liked maple syrup– lucuma gets you that nice aromatic bit without being gut-wrenchingly sweet. The fruit has orange flesh with a texture kind of like hardboiled egg yolks, inside a waxed-paper like green skin. There is nothing else like them.

            Weirdly, even though they had all kinds of bananas there, I don’t remember seeing it as a flavoring. Guanabana, passionfruit, peach, sure. Not big on banana. Maybe those are just more exciting in Europe?


    1. That’s exactly my experience. Patriotism is great but the extreme obesity rates in the US must be attributable to something. People always say “genetics” which is dumb given that the US population is from everywhere and in the places of origin there’s nothing like that.


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