No posts for ages and then they all come along at once.
This morning a lovely thing was discovered in my local high street. It’s a very good high street anyway, with two butchers, three bakeries, and two mini supermarkets. (One is a Co-op which makes me happy as they champion British food so I managed to get British strawberries again). It did have two greengrocers until a few weeks ago, when the bigger one of the two shut down. The remaining one is Joe’s. A grocers that sells fruit and ethnic veggies (yams, sweet potato, plaintain) alongside the usual tins, packets and spices. It’s more like a little general store and run by a Mauritian family.
The one that had closed is now open again and run by different people. Turkish or Albanian or something along those lines. What caught my eye initially was celery. Tall, dark green and with a full head of leaves. Not the anaemic stuff you get in British supermarkets where the only leaves are tucked right away in the middle; a proper, scented tree of the stuff! I have a longing for this stuff, as the leaves make a fabulous herb to add to soups and stews. Trying to get enough out of the tightly curled centre of a British celery bundle, well, it just doesn’t yield much at all. So, after I finished ogling the celery I spotted white and pale green striped courgettes, wonderful for stuffing.They seem to be a traditional Middle East vegetable and I far prefer them to the darker green ones. Could there be more? There was.
Waxy long, thin, pale peppers, the kind you usually get pickled with your kebab unless you say no. Pointed, sweet red peppers, hot, pale chillies, artichokes, huge white cabbages that are used for making cabbage rolls, kohlrabi, aubergines, full grown, dark leafed spinach. Tomatoes that shone. Mini cucumbers, curly cucumbers! Boxes of fresh dates, sultana grapes, huge nectarines…can we say heaven? Can we? Because that’s where I was.
Right in the middle of it all, when I thought it could not get any better I spied a small box. Only a small one, but it had something I have only ever seen in the markets in Cyprus before now.
The temptation to buy them all was strong but I have no idea how to cure them (yet) and nowhere to store them (yet) if I did know. That didn’t matter. I now have a local shop that sells things that feel like home to me. How lucky can I get? I can get plantains and yams, locally grown sweetcorn, apples, plums and strawberries, Cyprus potatoes, local potatoes and now and even bigger range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables. It’s actually very happy-making for me. That I can just walk to the local shops and buy these things is comforting, although it is at odds with my Buy British Reduce Food Miles thing. I’m not quite sure what to do about that, really. I suppose that whilst I will always support UK growers, and buy local as much as I can I still want to use the familiar foods and flavours that I grew up with, that remind me of my second home in Cyprus.
I can eat a nectarine tomorrow morning and feel like I am having breakfast with my Mum again.