Products,  Study Abroad,  Travel

Grocery Shopping in Spain

If you know me personally, you probably know that shopping for clothes is not really my thing. I get bored, grumpy, tired, and hungry- the hanger gets real. On the other hand, I do like a good trip to the grocery store. Maybe it’s because I still live at home and going grocery shopping is something I choose to do rather than have to do, or maybe it’s because I love food, but I’m a careful shopper and I have a good time with it.

Now, if supermarkets would just STOP BEING FREEZING and crowded, we’d really be talking.

Of course, country-hopping around Europe has allowed me to visit a plethora of markets and supermarkets. In a new country, I always try to walk into one! I think you can tell so much about a culture from the food culture there. Plus, there are fun products. (Which I don’t usually buy unless they’re something I will snack on, since I’m living in a homestay and my host mom prepares meals for me.)

I know my sister and my cousin went a little overboard and bought like 10 news flavors of Pringles (definitively not Spanish) when they visited me. That said, I decided to share some photos of a Spanish grocery store for a lighter post today.

The supermarket I took these photos at was Coviran, which is not the most common one in Seville.

The Produce Section

The first section of most grocery stores, like in the US, is the produce section! In some grocery stores you weigh your own fruit and put a label on it, but in this one they weigh it at the register. There are a always lots of varieties of apples, which surprised me somewhat, because I think of apples as a very American fruit.

 

On the top left, those are Italian peppers, which seem to be the more commonly-used peppers here? I am not actually sure. But look at those beautiful tomatoes!

 

Top left: zucchinis, which have a lighter skin here. Top right: multicolored peppers- which I assume are in a mid-ripening stage. I feel like I don’t often see that in the US? Bottom right: avocados! They’re actually grown in Spain, not imported from the Americas. But still pricey, sorry.

 

And my favorite Spanish fruit: melón! This is apparently available in the US occasionally and sold under the name Santa Claus melon or Christmas melon, because it lasts a long time (until Christmas). I had never seen it before coming here. Have you? (And no, it’s not honeydew.)

 

A bad picture of pre-cut produce, because that Spaniards have unlimited time to cook a full meal from scratch every day is a myth.

 

Even more convenient: pre-prepared veggies that are quite tasty.

More Refrigerated Products

Colacao on the left (essentially, normally comes in a powder), and two flavors of “café latte” of the right. Essentially I think you shake them and then either drink them cold or microwave them. I have to admit I’ve never tried these. A fresh café con leche usually costs 1.30 maximum and is so good and I am not crazy about Colacao in general. (I don’t like chocolate milk, but I do sometimes put a spoonful of the powder into my cereal!)

 

Ah, the yogurt aisle. Always a million choices nowadays. This is only half of the varieties, but I find the majority of yogurts in Spain pretty lacking. Homogeneous and lacking good yogurt flavor. Plus, the serving sizes are a little small for my taste. The most common way to sell them is a pack of 4-6 individual cups, as opposed to selling them individually or in a big container. People often eat one container as dessert, perhaps explaining the small serving size? (Of course, there are exceptions!)

 

Lots of deli meats. Yes, Spain is famous for jamón serrano, but jamón serrano is expensive, and more common is sliced ham/turkey/etc.

The Pantry

Lots of cookie varieties! Some familiar, some not. Many Spaniards have a sweet “merienda” (afternoon snack) at about 6-7:30 PM. This makes a lot more sense when you consider that weekday dinnertime is approximately 9-10:30.

 

The closest commonly-sold product to granola bars are cereal bars. They tend to be unsubstantial and don’t normally satisfy me, although I found a brand at Lidl that I like better.

 

Toast crackers (Melba toast?) are common here too, sold next to the bread.

 

Instead of selling canned chickpeas, they sell jarred chickpeas.

 

Pickled lupins are a common aperitif. People meet at bars before meals and share a small dish of them (or potato chips, peanuts, etc.) with their drinks. I had never heard of lupins before I arrived. They’re salty and you spit out the skin.

 

People (including adults) often buy and eat crustless sandwich bread.

 

The vast majority of milk sold here is shelf-stable (UHT), which is not expensive like in the US. It’s a little sweeter but I like the taste. You do refrigerate after opening. People often buy packs of six 1-liter containers, as seen on the bottom shelf. You can also see on the right that plant milks are starting to take off here as well. (Soy milk and lactose-free milk are already widely available where coffee is served.)

 

Also jarred vegetables…

 

…and a frozen paella kit with fish and veggies.

 

Of course, lots of olive oil of various qualities. Very important for cooking, salad dressing, and morning toast! It’s so much cheaper here, but that makes sense, because Andalucía is the olive oil production capital of the world. People definitely know about the varieties. (Admittedly, some of this may be vinegar and sunflower oil, often used for deep-frying.)

 

I just thought this looked like a fun product that the US should get ASAP, although I have not tried it.

That’s all for today!

Did you like the lighter post? (There has GOT to be somebody else in the world obsessed with grocery stores.) Do you want me to get back to talking about intuitive eating, HAES, and other more serious issues?

In lieu of this post, I thought about writing a travel recap. Would there be any interest in that?

Okay, lots of questions, but finally:

  • How do you feel about grocery shopping?
  • Do you try to avoid buying “junk food” because you don’t trust yourself to keep it in the house?
  • Do you look at nutrition labels? Do you find yourself paralyzed trying to choose between products?
  • And, what are you favorite cool products?

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone celebrating on Sunday, and especially to my mom. I love you more than you know!

 

3 Comments

  • Janice

    Great post Stella, I like seeing the different products. And absolutely “yes” to your second bullet point!

  • Debbi

    Stella,
    You are wise beyond your years!!! So glad you are sharing and promoting these good common sense ideas (that are certainly not common at this point in history), and opening this important conversation! And your pics of family at home and food abroad are beautiful!
    Warmest regards,
    Debbi

    • Stella

      Hi Debbi!

      Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment. I’m glad my posts are resonating with your and I hope they’re provoking people to think critically about the current nutrition paradigm. I’m actually going to be doing some history research on the evolution of nutritional advice in the contemporary US in the fall semester, so I hope to be able to understand better how we got to this point in history!

      And thanks re: the pics. Most of them come from Becky’s Shutterfly! I’ll maybe get the hang of the food photography thing some day!