YAAAAAAY SUPERMARKET IN A NEW COUNTRY SO EXCIIIIIIIIIITEEEEED ok sorry I’m calm. I’m calm.
I love going to supermarkets. It’s so telling of what people in a certain area like to eat. Often you find things in certain in places in huge quantities that you would have to search forever for in other places. For example, in Germany, you can find potato dumpling dough at every supermarket. In America, there are ten different kinds of peanut butter to choose from wherever you go. In France, it’s really easy to find tinned/pureed chestnuts. In Italy, the cheese section is always out of control, and different in every city, even in big chain supermarkets.
Psyched to find out what will be different here, and hoping that there will be some weird stuff.
I was not disappointed. The meat section was gigantic. The selection of cured meats was insane. Lots of chorizo and morcilla in various forms (dried, sliced, fresh, etc), mortadella, and different kind of whole, cured hams, plus a ton of other things that I had never seen before.
Most striking was this whole pig (??!!!?!?!):
To everyone who is revolted by this picture, let me say a few things.
- To vegans/vegetarians: I totally feel you. I was a vegan for a quite a long time myself, with bouts of vegetarianism sprinkled in between, but after quite a bit of thinking I realized that I was not against the killing of animals per say, but I was definitely against the torture of animals, which is absolutely what is what you are supporting when you pay for mass-produced meat, and when I was living in America, mass-produced meat was the only thing available without driving an hour to get to a Whole Foods and giving away half of your salary (and even then, it was iffy). Not that I necessarily want to complain about the price difference— organic meat (and cheese and eggs) has to cost more than cheap mass-produced hormone-pumped sponge-garbage. But I just couldn’t afford it. Therefore, I ate no meat. But in Europe it’s different. It is totally possible to stop at a farm in the Alps to buy some eggs, or milk from the cows that you see grazing in the open air all over the place. Or to stop at farm in France to buy a goose or a chicken where you can see them running around outside and know that they’ve had free space. Or in Germany to buy wild boar or deer from the hunter that lives across the street who you personally know and can verify isn’t a trigger-happy testosterone monster. Or in Italy the giant outdoor markets where cheese-makers come from all over the region to sell their products. This is a different world. Granted, this pig pictured above is still from a supermarket, and I would hesitate to buy it for that reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, after looking into it, it turned out that it was locally sourced.
- To anyone who eats meat and finds this disgusting: You might consider how hypocritical that is. If you are eating meat, you should take responsibility for what you’re doing and not try to hide the facts from yourself. That’s just bad faith. Furthermore, being disgusted by eating the less sough-after parts of an animal, like the brain, the kidneys, etc. is wasteful and even, I would argue, disrespectful. We’ve killed a living thing so that we can eat it. It seems just wildly decadent to just take the best parts and throw away the rest, and then when you get hungry again, kill another living thing. The fact that there are whole pigs available in the supermarket make me infer that the Spanish are not afraid to eat all those “nasty bits” that we in America are always wasting, and that, to me, is a sign of people with the right attitude towards food.
Octopus isn’t terribly difficult to find in other places, but in my experience, usually only the nicey supermarkets have it like this, as opposed to already cut up and mixed with other stuff. Pretty impressed.
There were also these weird little cake things. I couldn’t figure out what they were called, exactly, because some of them said Montecado, some Polvorón…
After looking them up on Wikipedia, I found out that these things have a pretty interesting history. They are a kind of shortbread thought to be of Levantine origin that are often served around Christmas time in Spain . They are made from flour, sugar, eggs nuts, and some kind of fat, like pig fat or cow fat or sometimes vegetarian ones (plus whatever other stuff to flavor it, like lemon or chocolate, etc). The name Polvorón comes from the Spanish word polvo, meaning powder, because they crumble in your mouth.
Montecados are a type of Spanish pastry that includes the Polvorón, but Montecados are perhaps slightly less crumbly, sometimes. Montecado comes from the Spanish word manteca, for the fat of an iberian pig. Montecados are also sometimes made with olive oil.
In the Philippines, Montecado is apparently also a traditional ice cream flavor, described as mixture of vanilla and butter.
I bought of bunch of different ones and tried them. They were totally melt-in-your-mouth. The lemon one with sugar was the best.
And lastly, I found some Estrella beer, a beer brewed in Barcelona that I’m particularly fond of. Good day.