Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hoarding Celery

Those are 2 words I never thought I'd type in succession!

It's interesting to think about what we can and can't get here.  While there are mountains of dried salt cod, an entire store shelf of hotdogs standing at attention like soldiers trapped in glass jars, and precious, tiny quail eggs, there are a few things that we can't find here that I miss.  Even with trips to the HUGE supermarket in Porto, I still can't find chocolate chips, split peas, sour cream, scallions, and many herbs and spices.  Celery is rare and when I find it I buy it, whether I need it or not!

Lots of beautiful produce but no celery 

Although I've created some tasty Portuguese food, I like to make meals with different flavor profiles.  So I find myself shopping in the Foreign Foods section of the store quite often.  That's where I can find Old El Paso tortillas, peanut butter imported from the Netherlands, and low-sodium soy sauce.

For the most part, I have been okay living without some of my favorite ingredients and in some cases have found new ways to create similar flavors.  Thanks to The Google, I've learned how to make 'sour cream' using yogurt and melted butter and a pretty good facsimile of allspice using a combination of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg & black pepper.

Surprisingly, we CAN get Lay's potato chips
 in a wide variety of flavors including ketchup
and ham

Thanks to friends and family, we have supplemented our Portuguese food supply.  Dried cherries, split peas, chocolate chips, Ken's blue cheese dressing, spices from Penzey's, dried herbs from Mom's garden, good beer, twist ties(!) and my beloved Reese's peanut butter cups have all traveled over 4000 miles to end up in our hands.  We can feel the love that went into shipping them off to us and couldn't be more grateful for these thoughtful gifts from home. 

One thing I appreciate about Portuguese grocery stores is the lack of processed foods.  You won't find things like macaroni and cheese, cake mix, chip dip or canned soups.  The stores mostly offer seasonal produce, meat, fish, dairy, wine and lots of baked goods.  It's definitely a healthier way to shop and eat. 

Huge fresh figs from the municipal market last fall
Whenever possible, I like to buy produce and meat from the big municipal farmer's market or small shops in our neighborhood.  When we leave, I know that I will miss my favorite fruit lady, the eager veggie guy and my smiley butchers.  They are a part of my weekly routine. 

~ Peggy

1 comment:

  1. I just bought scallions, now in season, at the big municipal market today. Yahooooo!