Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why stop at five a day?

I like Tuesdays. Tuesday is market day in Los Gallardos, so I stock up on lovely fresh fruit and vegetables for the coming week.Some weeks are a little disappointing and I don't see much I fancy, but I am usually tempted by something, and I like to try out some of the less familiar things too, though I do ask for advice on whether they need to be peeled, cooked etc. first. Now is the season for all the soft fruits which I love. I have been buying beautiful strawberries for several weeks and more recently, cherries, but this week I found not one, but three new items to try. I generally look to see what the Spanish people are buying, as they know when things are at their best, and today they were all buying these little red fruit, by the bagful. I thought they looked like plums, so I filled my bag and sure enough they are very sweet, juicy baby plums. The 'cherry tomatoes' of the plum world! Chris says they taste like the old fashioned Victoria plums. Next I saw these funny flattened peaches. I saw a number of people buying them so I asked an English lady what they are like. She said they are delicious but they don't keep well so not to buy too many. Well there's no chance of them going 'off'! They are so sweet and juicy, and have a lovely flavour. And finally I was looking at these little green things which seemed very popular with the local shoppers, and I was wondering what they could be. Two ladies I was talking to were wondering the same thing so I said 'Well let's find out' and I asked the stall holder how to say them - 'Como se dice?' Literally this is 'How does it say itself?' and it is the best way to learn the names of things without geting into a complicated conversation. He told me they were peritas. Well just as 'cat' is 'gato' and a kitten is 'gatito' or little cat, so a pear is 'pera' and hence these fruit are little pears. And that is exactly what they are, complete with an undeveloped core and flower. Some were going more yellow so they ripen without getting any bigger. I asked him if I need to cook them and he shook his head violently and bit into one to show me, and then gave me one to try. The Spanish are usually very helpful and if you take one step towards communicating with them, then they will come to meet you and be as helpful as they can. The fruit tasted like ordinary pears so I bought some of them as well. Then I spotted some ripe purple figs and had to have just a few as a treat for me. They are a different shape from the little ones I used to buy in England occasionally, but much sweeter. Chris doesn't eat them but I have always liked them and they remind me of Dad. Jean and I used to spend half a crown (a small fortune in those days) to buy him a fresh fig from a posh shop in Bournemouth as a Christmas present.
Of course, by the time I had finished shopping and had shown Chris all my 'finds', it was getting late so I fished the second half of last week's lasagne out of the freezer, and while it was thawing and heating through, I made a fresh salad. It's a good thing we both like salad as vegetables are not all that good now the weather is warmer. The Spanish don't use many themselves with their summer dinners and have salad instead, and we are doing the same. The sweet peppers are amazing and I always have lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes in the fridge. Add some beetroot that I bought fresh and bottled last week, plus a few gerkins and a hot pickled chilli if I can get away with it, fix two dishes of assorted fruit for dessert, put the kettle on to make a brew, and there you have it. A lunch tray fit for a king! I bet you wish your five-a-day was as interesting and easy to prepare. This is how we eat most days now though so far I am still managing to do a Sunday roast. I'm not sure I will do it for much longer. The kitchen stays hot for ages when the cooker has been on. Of course, the fruit dessert is not as varied by the end of the week when only the apples and oranges are left, but with such a healthy diet, it is no wonder people say we are looking so well.
Another adventure this morning was getting my hair cut. It had got too long and untidy, and it was making me too hot. I know an English girl in the village who goes to people's homes to do their hair, and many English folk think you should help your fellow country men (and women) who are trying to earn a living out here, but being a perverse creature, I wanted to go to a Spanish hairdresser. I didn't come here to live like I did in England, and the local people are suffering from unemployment just as much, if not more, than the people in England. So I went to a little place in a side street that I had seen with a hairdresser sign above the door. It was all shut up but a notice said to ring the bell on the house next door. So I did and I was greeted by a little old lady. I mimed having my hair cut and she called for her daughter who took me back to the shop, unlocked it and preceeded to cut my hair. We had a funny conversation as she spoke no English, and didn't always understand my Spanish, but I came out with a very good hair cut, and it only cost €9, so I shall go there again and hopefully I will know a bit more Spanish next time and be able to talk to her better.
I am sorry there are so many photos today. It all looked so lovely and fresh and colourful, and I couldn't decide which ones to leave out, so I used them all!

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