One Month Without A Supermarket 2

London, Observatory


Apparently I’m not the only one with this idea. This morning I braved the sleet to avoid the only supermarket we have and shop in a new local farmers’ market. I found it busy, considering the adverse weather conditions. The butcher, usually empty, was full. He gets his meat fresh from Smithfield, so there’s no chance of eating irradiated donkey parts.

He offered to grate some suet for me but admits it’s harder to get hold of now. The supermarkets have a grip on prepackaged foods, and the knock-on effect is that small shops have to accept chickens without giblets, fish without roe, scallops without tails, and so on.

No-supermarket vegetables are uglier but tastier, and there’s a much bigger selection. Fish remains the biggest problem, as there’s no wet fish shop within walking distance, just frozen stuff. Household needs came from a hardware store, chicken from the Halal butcher. It would be more convenient to head for Tesco, but I’m determined to loosen the habit.

The old family shops have all been replaced by ethnic stores, but this reaps benefits as well, because I can get everything from wasabi to ugli fruit, and giant ginger roots cost £1 instead of £2 for a few shreds at the supermarket. Fresh bread is easy because there are Turkish bakers.

As for bills – I’m spending more in quality food but buying less stuff I don’t need/want just because it’s staring at me from an aisle. I’m no longer buying BOGOFs and throwing food away. And the biggest side effect – I’m cooking much more. Last night, baked sicilian chicken with lemons, tonight steak and kidney pudding. Oh, and I’m putting on weight.

I’m over halfway through my month now, and so far I’m entirely happy with the switch. Let’s see if I get to the end.

20 comments on “One Month Without A Supermarket 2”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    I have been told that if you stand when you cook and stand when you eat and stand when you write – like Hemingway – you will gain less weight. I’m not recommending this, just reporting. Suspect if you did all that standing, you’d end up with enlarged veins in you legs and flat feet.

  2. Alan G says:

    If there is an upside to Crohns disease it is that I have to be very careful about what I eat. I very rarely have anything I do not prepare myself or by family and friends who know to be careful. This has cost our local supermarket my business since I shop exclusively at the small local shops.

    And it’s great to pick some hideous-looking thing, ask what it is and come home with the thing and a recipe. Admittedly some foul cooking action there at times – if I invite to a dinner party ask first if I intend to serve yam. Or squid.

    The thing about shopping locally is the contact “where they know my name and speak it with delight” (sorry – do not know the poet name and google no help).

    Chris – make your own bread – that’ll keep the spare tyre at bay.

  3. snowy says:

    Is Steve Hatt’s Fishmongers still in the Essex Road? Admittedly it’s 20 minutes each way on foot, but on a day with decent weather that’s not so bad?

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    It would now appear that the only copy of the Case Book on Amazon.UK has been sold in the past couple of hours.
    An Amazon restock would be nice.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    Alan, why do you think that baking your own bread is a good idea. The smell of hot bread is the greatest lure there is and the taste of it, all slathered with butter is enough to make you swoon. Hot bread slices thick and resisting a second slice is very difficult.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Alan, why do you think that baking your own bread is a good idea? The smell of hot bread is the greatest lure there is and the taste of it, all slathered with butter is enough to make you swoon. Hot bread slices thick and resisting a second slice is very difficult.

  7. Alan G says:

    Helen – a second slice? I admire your discipline. It is for this reason that I bake daily – fresh bread goes in a flash, especially when freshly ground coffee is on the side…

  8. Dan Terrell says:

    Enough Alan and Helen: I used to make sourdough bread from scratch and still grind my coffee, chew the bean as well, but I have been “slimming” of late and I DO NOT WANT TO THINK ABOUT THE SMELL OF FRESH BREAD COOLING. And melting butter, herb honey or black current jelly or blackberry jam! Sorry, I feel better – well, actually, I don’t. AND I don’t want to read a lot more about whipping up tasty dishes between Admin’s knocking out a paragraph or three.

  9. Alan G says:

    Sorry Dan. On Monday mornings I put on my protective gear and help to clean the local graveyard after the weekend beer-fests. As a reward to myself I… no. Will not subject you to the chocolate and rum-soaked raisin cake smell.

  10. Dan Terrell says:

    I wish I knew British English better, Alan G. It’s so easy to misunderstand the nuances and to misread the tone of a phrase in another man’s language. Still I have to admit, while I realize you did not intentionally mean to give my stomach contractions and cause drool to splatter my recently-cleaned keyboard, why did you write “chocolate and rum-soaked raisin cake smell” in a post to a man on short rations?
    And I must admit that on reading “chocolate and rum-soaked cake smell” a phrase from an old Michael Gilbert novel flashed to mind. By your leave, no offense intended, but I instantly thought: “invidious rotter.” Is that too strong? 🙂

  11. Alan G says:

    Not at all, Dan. I work in local Government – small petty-minded nastiness is my raison d’etre!

  12. andrea yang says:


    I have seen photos of PaPa Hemingway and the standing while your right approach did not work!

  13. andrea yang says:

    I guess I am the typo queen of the day/ Meant to write, I have seen photos of PAPa Hemingway and the standing while you write approach did not work.

  14. John Howard says:

    For those who cant get easily accessable ugly veg then they can be bought at very reasonable rates delivered to your door at various co-operatives via the the wonder that is the web. Nothing like a good farmers market though…

  15. Helen Martin says:

    They have to be local ugly veg displayed on either plain wood counters or in wooden boxes. You’d better have locally made durable cotton bags to carry them home in, too, because we don’t want anything to do with excess packaging.

  16. Alan G says:

    Andrea – we are busy upsetting Dan here.

    What’s with this Hemingway business? Keep your eye on the ball – and do not mention toasted banana sandwiches.

  17. snowy says:

    Bread……….Bread? Pah!

    Let them eat Pain Au Chocolat.

  18. Helen Martin says:

    Snowy, you’re getting to me, too.I just found a recipe for zero dark thirty bars, which I may try, but this morning’s recipe for Tiramisu using maple syrup and another in which thick bread slices are cut into quarters, dipped into an egg and cream mixture, baked in a bread pan, turned out, cut into four and rolled in caramel glaze sounds rather good.
    I don’t think Papa Hemingway would have approved of any of that.

  19. Alan G says:

    I dunno Helen. I’ve been working all day on a daube of hare to share with my beloved – only to be asked to an emergency Council meeting tonight. Not happy but is what I was elected to do. It will be a short meeting, ‘cos I’m chairing and she has firm instructions to leave the damn thing alone. Yer average modern man.

    I am thinking of a coconut and apple cake for Easter – just to annoy Dan.

  20. Helen Martin says:

    Alan, I am impressed – a politician who cooks French, prefers short meetings to long ones, and has a wife who co-operates. Ever thought of trying for Prime Minister of Canada?

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