A few more notes about food, illustrated with photos:
After my first whining post, things have settled in just fine food wise. We’re cooking a lot ourselves (well, Rich does all the cooking). We shop at the Anton-Martin market, which has lots of stalls of fish, poultry, vegetables, fruit, cheese, etc. to choose from. And we’ve deciphered most restaurant menus, although I am now careful to always have my iPhone with its trusty translation program.
Anton-Martin is very simple and not at all touristy. We’ve been at a couple of other city markets, and they seem more for tourists than the locals. Not ours. Every now and then I see little old ladies in all black shopping there, looking oh so quintessential Spanish.
Ham and sausage hanging everywhere:
1. Instead of green (or snap) beans here, they have flat green beans. I think they are related to green beans. (You can find our snap beans, but many vegetable stands don’t have them.) The flat ones taste just fine.
2. When you ask for chicken breasts at the market, the poultry lady takes this amazingly sharp knife, deftly cuts away any fat and delicately slices the breasts into thin cutlets. It’s quite amazing to watch, quite an art. The shopkeepers have these magic knives that slice through meat like its butter. Rich had a pretty amusing exchange with the butcher guy the other day. He wanted a rump cut, and had no idea how to ask for it. They butcher spoke zero English. My Spanish-English dictionary was no help – it couldn’t even translate the signs he had on all the meat. Rich even pointed to his own butt in hopes that would convey the message, but that just confounded the guy. I was saying, just pick one, and I’m sure it will be fine – just make sure it’s not horse meat (we saw that in the supermarket the other day. Right near the whole dead rabbits. I had to look away.) Whatever we ended up with was just fine.
Here's the butcher with his knife. I considered putting this on FB, but it was just too freaky:
And the poultry lady, very proud of her handiwork:
3. Food is cheaper here. Since we go shopping like every other day, and have a mix of eating in and eating out, it’s hard to keep track. What I do know is that when I go shopping in Vermont I usually pay an average of $150/week now for food (which does include toiletries and paper goods) for about 4-5 tote bags worth of food. Our last supermarket trip we bought at least 3 bags of groceries and the cost came to less than $60. I just bought a whole bunch of vegetables and it came to under 3 Euro.
I love the little carts with wheels at the supermarkets:
4. Chocolate cereal. I noted this with a photo on Facebook. It truly is amazing. Rich is suffering, though – no Cheerios. Seriously, 95% of the cereals have chocolate in them, even ones like Special K. I’d love to know why.
5. I feel like an idiot that I just realized this, 3 weeks in, but restaurants charge you for bread and the little snacks they bring you when you first sit down. They don’t ask you, they don’t give you a choice – you sit down, they bring the bread/olives/etc. And charge you for it. Add that to the fact that instead of tap water I drink “agua con gas” (if tap water is an option, it’s not obvious and I don’t know how to ask for it) – our restaurant tabs are higher than in the US. OTOH, we don’t tip 20 percent, so I guess it averages out.