Some ideas and observations…
1. When you buy fruit and veg from the market or small grocery stores, ask for some parsley, they’ll always throw in a bunch for free.
2. Food is generally cheapest in the markets, but:
3. You are highly likely to get charged higher prices in the market once they detect that hint of a foreign accent. Avoid this by checking prices at a few stalls before buying.
4. Everywhere but the supermarkets, ask for recipe advice for whatever you are buying. The grocer will tell you exactly how to make the best ‘revuelto‘ (scrambled eggs) with those ‘setas‘ (wild mushrooms), the meat guy will enthusiastically explain how best to stew his beef… and they all love to tell you.
5. The wise Spaniard always has a can of Fabada Litoral in the cupboard. Litoral is a brand that does an incredible job of putting Fabada, that famous Asturian bean stew, into a can. A lifesaver when the fridge is empty.
6. If a shop only sells one thing, always buy that thing from that shop. There is a shop around the corner from us that only sells eggs and only opens on Wednesdays. Best damn eggs in Madrid!
7. Spanish shoppers always carefully check their receipts, even in supermarkets, looking out for those few unscrupulous shopkeepers that still slip the extra item onto the list every now and again. Do the same, and argue as vehemently as they do when you spot a ‘mistake’.
8. Never buy bread from Chinese shops or supermarkets, it’s crappy. Look for the local bakery with the biggest line and queue up with the grannies.
9.Chinese shops, the corner shops of Spain, never shut. The tired Chinese girl behind the counter has been there 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, all her adult life – hence the Spanish phrase ‘trabajar como un chino‘, to work like a Chinaman, i.e. very very hard. When everywhere else is shut, Chinese stores are great places for essentials like beer, milk, and crappy bread.
10. No self-respecting Spanish housewife ever buys fish on a Monday – it’s left over from Saturday. The fresh stuff comes in from Tuesday onwards. Oh, and fresh fish has bloody eyes.
How does this compare to your neck of the woods? What have I missed?