Well-travelled Celery

Having arrived in Spain yesterday to substantial sunshine, albeit with clouds shrouding some of the higher hills, today dawned with clouds on the deck and a constant dripping of rain. It was expected to remain all day. With temperatures hovering around 6°C/42°F, there was little alternative but plan a casual gastronomic day in.

Chris and Yvonne had a filleted turbot in their freezer. Rummaging around in their fridge revealed that they also happened to have some chicory and leaks. We were already half-way to Mr Stein’s Ragout of Turbot and Scallops so Carol and I decided to pop out in search of the remaining ingredients; ‘t would be my turn in the kitchen for the evening meal.

The rain continued. Having spent five minutes learning how to turn on our rental Renault’s windscreen wipers, Carol and I drove to a supermarket in Benissa and found what was needed to complete Mr. Stein’s creation. Turbot just had to be accompanied by a couple of bottles of albariño. The supermarket was offering two-for-one on some pre-packaged pulpo (octopus) which we simply couldn’t resist grabbing for lunch.

 The rain continued. We returned with our booty.

The rain continued. Lunchtime arrived. I opened the first package of pulpo. An unpleasant smell not resembling any octopus I had previously met hit my nostrils. Curious – the package was still well-within date. I opened the second package. That smelt much more like octopus. Darn! We’d got some rotten pulpo with four days still to run on its best-before date. I returned the suspect octopus to its packaging and plan B swung into action; lunch became some cold meats and cheese.

The rain continued. Carol and I returned to Benissa accompanied by our rotten pulpo. This was to be my most advanced conversation in Spanish to date. “Losiento, pulpo non bien.” which I hoped translated roughly to, “Sorry, octopus not good”. Whatever, it worked and we given a refund.

The rain continued. Those not on kitchen-duty resorted to the diversion of a jigsaw puzzle. The kitchen staff (yours truly) having substituted dry oloroso sherry for dry vermouth in Rick’s recipe, dinner was much more successful than lunch.

Now to the title. In rummaging around for ingredients in the fridge, Yvonne had produced some celery. Apparently all the celery available locally from Spanish suppliers was quite dark green. This celery, almost white, was from Iceland, a British shop in Benissa. What was the country of origin of this light celery that the Spanish don’t appear to sell? Yes, Spain. We can only assume that this celery had been grown in Spain, shipped to Iceland in England, then shipped back to Spain to be sold to all the expats there.

How’s that for food miles?

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