Strategies for Grocery shopping: a new mind-set, an adventurous spirit and regular trips to Tesco…
Supermarkets [I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING!!!]:
It’s a ‘find and seek’ exercise so you really need to have an adventurous spirit when grocery shopping in Barcelona.
Having become used to supermarket superstores in recent years, the supermarkets here in Barcelona are by comparison ‘rather small’ their product ranges limited or they simply don’t have what you’re looking for. I’m reminded of a time 40 or so years ago in New Zealand when Friday morning grocery shops meant accompanying my mother as she undertook an expedition across town to various supermarkets to complete the weekly shop.
Of course you’re in Barcelona so ‘duh’ there’s the language issue as well and no I’m not talking simply about Spanish here, to add to your confusion much of the labelling for local produce is in Catalan. You become much more observant to the images on packaging and it’s best to shop with your phone handy so that Google translate can come to your rescue.
For instance, when my cousin Sarah was here over xmas we wanted to buy ’Thousand Island’ dressing to have with our prawns. Do you think we could find it??? Eventually, and several supermarkets later we came across it at El Corte Inglés under the name ‘Especial Marisco-Cocktail’
Now that you’ve got your head around the fact that no one supermarket is going to cater to your needs…
Lidl, dare I say it, for your ‘basics’ you just can’t go past it. They’re also the only store I can find that does Greek yogurt and their Azul Blue cheese is amazing.
For anything that Lidl doesn’t offer we generally head into El Ravel to Caprabo, we have one closer which we only just discovered but it’s much smaller and therefore more limited. Our ever trusted friend Nina also got us a Caprabo ‘el meu club’ card which gives us great discounts and ‘buy 1 get the second half price’ offers.
Just recently we came across Condis on Paral-lel, it appears to have an even better selection than Caprabo and its closer to home…it needs more investigation.
Favourite Boutique Supermarkets:
El Corte Inglés
If you have a deep wallet then nothing can beat El Corte Inglés for the variety and quality of their food products.
Those of you familiar with ‘Harris Farm’ in Sydney will love the organic food store ‘Ametller Origen’ it’s sheer joy to shop in, on our street and only 2 minutes from our door.
There are of course the markets. Our closest is the famous Mercado de La Boqueria. Because however it’s a beacon for tourists the prices are generally high and more so particularly around the la Rambla entrance. Still it’s worth a visit just for the experience.
Fruita and Verdures [Catalan: Fruit and Vegetables]:
The taste of fruit and vegetable here can be simply amazing, they are packed with flavour. It can make eating a salad a whole new experience.
Fruit and Vegetable stores are ‘everywhere’ in fact they are so numerous that you have to wonder how they all survive. Generally much cheaper than what you’ll pay at a supermarket…you just have to check the quality. If like me you’re happy buying fruit and vegetables that are not graded, uniform and perfect then it’s the way to shop. There’s one just across the road from our apartment.
I have one word ‘CHEAP’
Herbs and Spices:
My biggest frustration! Supermarkets only cater for local dishes when it comes to herbs and spices. After being so used to cooking with a whole range of herbs and spices it absolutely drives me nuts that I can’t get or find them here. Again my friend Nina came to the rescue. She took me to two Chinese stores ‘Dong Fang Extremo Oriente’ and ‘Supermercat Asia’ No’s 1 and 3 respectively on Carrer de Balmes. They carry Chinese, Japanese, Asian, a wide range of spices and even ‘English’ products, it’s not the complete answer but, it’s about 90% there and so…
to the rescue!
I am still yet to find coconut flour, simple saline solution for contact lenses, numerous spices and peanut butter… hence Philip often is sent on scouting trips to a Tesco Superstore when he is back for work in the UK
…and remember in Spain major supermarkets are closed Sundays and Public Holidays
Note: Images taken from Google