“Don Quixote is the national glory of Spain. No one who does not know that has the right to call himself a Spaniard. There is a monument to him in Madrid…he was our first revolutionary.” Gerald Brenan – South from Granada
After four days of travelling, eight-hundred kilometres driving and some serious sightseeing, today we were planning an altogether less demanding sort of experience with a leisurely full day in the provincial town of Almagro.
Good morning, Andrew.
Me being me, I perhaps SHOULD make some cerebral comment on the life and work of Cervantes. But being the perverse individual that I am, I will instead zero-in on your mention of Mercadona.
Not only is this Spain’s pre-eminent supermarket chain, I would argue that it is surely the best chain in Europe. How we could do with it here in Britain!
When I was last in Spain in November, I stocked up with their black pepper (in little jars with built in grinders). And I also again brought home their own-label cheapest eggs. These are sensationally good.
I wrote to the Spanish producer (Guillen Eggs) to ask them to find a British outlet. They replied that they had tried but (inferred) that British supermarkets had all closed ranks with a “let’s insist on British” policy.
I then wrote to Jason King at Sainsbury, Terry Leahy at Tesco and other big UK supermarket bosses, telling them (politely!) to get their heads out of their fundaments. Two or thee replied in person (including those two) to say that they had no significant call for foreign eggs, plus the logistics of transport would add to the price and would make the eggs less fresh.
I guess they had a point. But the other point they all made did not have the slightest validity: they claimed that they were handsomely served by British egg producers! (That is so wide of the mark that it is a disgrace.)
Here in Britain, my wife Larissa will not allow me to buy eggs from caged birds. I go along with her, even though I do not see “caged hens” as cruelty, per se. So we buy the dearest eggs from all the usual suspects.
And guess what? None of them taste even a QUARTER as good as the great cheap eggs in Mercadona.
I reckon that it is all down to the feed. Our egg producers are penny-pinching and are feeding our hens wood shavings or somesuch! (I exaggerate of course! But I seriously wonder if the RSPCA should not be called in to investigate if our British free range egg producers are feeding their chickens properly.)
And Andrew, don’t get me started on why our supermarkets do not sell that sensational yellow potato that Mercadona sell. I have written to them about this also. Jaerla is the variety.
If I want them here, I have to buy from Dundry Nurseries in Cheltenham.
C’est la vie.
Wouldn’t Somalians LOVE to have my “problems”!?
And viva Cervantes!
I always find it fascinating that the two greatest writers in world literature in their day (and some would argue, greatest even to THIS day), chose to DIE on the SAME day.
(Well, actually they did not, quite. Britain and Spain were on different calendars at the time. But the ten day difference is still close enough as to make such a coincidence seem strangely profound.)
PS Andrew; please email me with your email address. I want to send you an attachment.
I wholeheartedly agree, I like Mercadona much more than Carrefour or Leclerc. My first visit was to a supermarket in Villamartin, an ex-pat community on the Spanish east coast. It included one of those moments when it can be embarrassing to be British as I came across an ignorant elderly Englishman by the coffee jars shouting at a member of staff: “GRANULES, GRANULES, NOT POWDER, GRANULES”, he was an example of the Ricky Gervais observation that ask once, if they don’t understand SHOUT and if they still don’t understand then trash the place. He looked at me and in exasperation and raised his eyebrows as though to say that it was all the young girl’s fault that he couldn’t communicate in her language! I ignored him and quickly moved on to the alcohol section where I find that I rarely have any trouble with vino rosso, vino blanco, San Miguel etc but I always forget the word for corkscrew!
Perhaps the difference in the quality of eggs is the reason why, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make an authentic Spanish tortilla?
Although (as you will know) the date of Shakespeare’s birth is not accurately known it is estimated to be 23rd April 1564 and if this is true it seems to me to be slightly sad that he had the misfortune to die on his birthday – I wonder if he finished opening all of his cards and presents? There is an excellent book about William Shakespeare by Bill Bryson which I recommend to everyone.
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