Hello, welcome to another Foodie Wednesday’s. Sorry to disappoint but my Portuguese food report is still not ready. Don’t get me wrong I have been eating my whole country, I’d just rather do a proper ‘report’ on it once I am back home in London (plus I’m still not done with the eating).
So, we’ll talk about something as important as eating (to me at least): where does our food come from and where I buy my food.
I know that a lot of people would rather not discuss much about what it is you’re eating. If you think of cow rather than beef it might put you off slightly, right? Nop, wrong. I think we need to know exactly what we’re eating. It’s all fine if you love to eat meat – not all of us can become vegetarians – but you should be conscious about it and should know where it comes from and what it implies.
I think more and more you see a raise of consciousness regarding what we eat and where it comes from and I think that’s great. But there’s still a long way to go.
For me it’s mixed feelings. I do find cows really cute, but then again that medium-rare steak just makes my mouth water. I am blessed not to like lamb (honestly I don’t like the taste), and it’s not very often I am presented with rabbit, so don’t have to make the hard choice of eating it.
Growing up we would spend a lot of holidays, especially summers in the south of Portugal with my grandparents, at Alentejo (where I am today). And they have a small ‘farm/backyard’ with loads of vegetables, poultry and at times there were sheep and rabbits. So I’ve always known that what you’re eating used to be alive, and therefore I am very respectful of it. No waste, save all leftovers, these animals loose their life so we could eat, we have to honour that.
Now that I live in London, and obviously don’t keep chicken in my balcony, I try to find the best sources of meat. For instance I never buy anything other than organic/free-range. I’ll still check the logos and authentication stamps/seal to make sure I’m not being deceived and buying from those dreadful ‘food farms’. Still there’s only so much you can do. If you really want to make sure you’re eating a ‘fairly treated’ creature you should probably drive to the producer yourself. I don’t have a car, so I just cross my fingers and hope those authentication/ regulation(?) authorities are doing their job.
As for fish, the weirdest thing for me coming to London was to see all those packed fish in the supermarket. I mean, if you can’t really see the fish how do you know it’s fresh? I don’t know, feels ‘fishy’ to me. I grew used to see the fish right there on display, where you can see if the eyes are watery or bright, if there’s blood or not, if the gills are fresh… that’s the only way I know how to buy it. That or good frozen fish/seafood. Gladly there’s a fishmonger close to us. I’m still sure most of it isn’t that fresh, but we buy pretty decent fish there. I wouldn’t use it for sushi, but to grill, roast, or prepare with rice or pasta, it’s quite good. Better and cheaper than supermarkets.
Finally vegetables. Vegetables and fruit are the hardest thing, because they’ll always taste different from country to country. For instance in England the potatoes and carrots taste amazing. Really. The oranges and lemons? Not so much. My granddad grows oranges and lemons, and the taste is completely different.
Still we are lucky that not too far from us there’s a market, every day except Sundays and Mondays, on North End Road. Some of the products are still imported, but most of the times you can find great British products, much cheaper and tasting way better than the ones you can buy at supermarkets. When I buy courgette, carrots, leak and onions from the market, to make soup, there’s just no possible comparison in terms of taste. It’s 100 times better. I don’t buy from all the stands there, I usually prefer the one in front of the fishmonger, only because it’s more convenient and I the guys there are really funny. Also I like their singing and humming.
But I would assume all the others have really good vegetables as well. Plus on the same market you can find the ‘cheese guy’ (actually it’s more than one guy) they’re French and sell all types of delicious cheese, and the ‘olive guy’, a Greek guy who sells the best olives I’ve ever eaten in London. he also has pretty good looking Greek olive oil, but I’ve never tried it. It’s totally worth the trip.
And that’s it – that’s where I usually buy my food in London, trying to make the best, given I can’t just drive to my grandparents to grab some vegetables…
But here’s bottom line , even if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of going to five different places to be a ‘responsible and sustainable’ human being, please be mindful of the choices you make at supermarkets. Always try to find out where it comes from, what’s it made of and how, if it was sustainable grown and what kind of impact it has. Not only for the environment and sustainability, but also for your health.