A Near-Random Selection of Spanish Groceries
On the drive back from Etxebarri, the one-hour-from-San Sebastián source of possibly the best leisurely multi-course meal on vacation (smoked goat’s milk butter!) and the reason why we needed a rental car for the day, I insisted on stopping at the Eroski I spied in a village we’d passed through on the way.
Natural beauty must be tempered by commercialism. Seeing another country’s groceries is always important on my vacations. There was a Lidl, like Aldi in the US, a block from our apartment but I craved a full-blown supermarket.
Despite sounding vaguely Russian, Eroski, is a Basque word, and the name of a sprawling shopping center selling groceries, clothing, camping gear, everything, like Fred Meyer, the one-stop store I’ve missed for close to 13 years.
The ham aisle is always the most impressive aspect of a Spanish grocery store. The unbelievably large rows of canned seafood (tuna, sardines, anchovies, mussels, razor clams, cockles, octopus and more) are also trademarks.
Ready-to-warm tortillas filled a refrigerated case. This was perfect for preparing in the morning since I rarely go out for breakfast, home or abroad.
The tortillas shared a space with pizzas. This brand not only created unusual flavors like kebab, they each include a packet of sauce to be baked in. Chimichurri? Barbacoa a.k.a. barbecue? Why not? Not a single ham and pineapple (the favorite in Oaxaca) was to be seen. Clearly, the Spanish aren’t averse to pairing fruit with meat: jamón and melon is classic and as I’ve mentioned before foie gras almost always was served with something apple-y. Maybe they just a need a nudge in the right direction.
Happy birthday cakes in Basque.
Apparently, they have a fondness for chips that look like ghosts. Fantasinis must be closely related to Fantasmas I saw in Madrid.
Chorizo and jamon play a prominent role in the chip department. The Ruffles truly tasted like ham while the Lay’s mostly of salt.
Man’s best friend gets the English language treatment. Miao, the feline version, does not.
Hello Kitty is everywhere, from Cheeto’s to Phoskitos snack cakes with a font that bears a striking resemblance to Snickers.
Another cat, The Pink Panther, lends his name to waxy, strawberry-iced Twinkie-like treats.
Klak is a blatant Kit Kat clone.