In the UK I loved to shop, any kind of shopping, clothes, shoes, for Christmas presents, preferably with a lovely long lunch break somewhere in the middle, with a glass of something chilled and alcoholic in one hand! However since moving to Cyprus, my shopping experiences are mainly confined to window and food shopping, and even our food shop has to be budget conscious. But that’s okay, when I lie on the beach or by my pool after a morning of work, there really is no contest between working my (little cotton) socks off in the UK, and living here, seeing my son grow up, and Niffa easing off the work that has given him arthritis in his fingers from his early 40’s.
So I just HAD to share with you all, the wonderful selection of fruit, vegetables and other bits and bobs (including whole meal pitta, quinoa, mango, fresh and vacuum packed beetroot etc) that I bought on Friday from the fruit and veg shop in Larnaca. This whole table of produce came to just €18 and is enough to last us for a week, an absolute bargain.
I love going to the grocers here, they have such a fantastic array of choice, and they price perishables depending on their state. So there might be trays of tomatoes at varying stages of ripeness, and all are different prices, so be prepared to try and remember where you picked each of your items as you may be asked at the till. If you are making pasta sauce or soup, the ripest, almost ready to spoil tomatoes, will be as cheap as chips, but they are perfect for that purpose. In fact you can usually get a whole box – and I mean 5-6 kilos, for a Euro or two. The oranges in this photo are Jaffa oranges and at 26 cents a kilo, well it’s a no brainer really, and H loves oranges.
It drives me bonkers when people (mainly ex-pats I have to say) complain about the cost of food shopping here in Cyprus. If you cook from fresh, choose seasonal fruit and vegetables, and pay attention to fluctuations in price, you can eat so well for so little! However if you insist on buying strawberries out of season, you will pay around €6 a punnet. The ones on this pic cost me €2.58, and in a few weeks when it is strawberry season proper, they will be around €1 a punnet. A few months ago celery was very expensive but has plummeted in price recently, and cucumbers have gone up to €3.50 a kilo from the usual €1.50-1.80.
And yes before you say it, I know that good meat is more expensive here (and god I really miss my local farm where I could buy meat at the weekends that was the tastiest ever!), but I find that this is balanced out by the fruit and vegetable cost – but NOT if you only go to LIDL to buy prepackaged, imported, often tasteless “fresh” produce. And also not if you insist on having Heinz Beans and Bachelors Savoury Rice, or whatever English foods you always had in the UK for your dinner!
Shop where the Cypriots shop – that’s why they do it! Don’t get me wrong LIDL are great for some stuff, their own brand baked beans at 45 cents a tin are just as good as Heinz, and they sell less than 5% fat mince which I use a lot of. But for fresh produce and meat go to the local grocer and butcher, you might just be surprised. In the UK I never had time to visit different shops for different items, but here I do, and it’s definitely worthwhile. So for lunch today I made a quinoa (my new favourite thing which I’ve only just learnt how to pronounce!) salad with grilled marinated chicken breast and a honey and mustard dressing, which H even said was delicious! And I made a jelly for my friend using fresh strawberries and some frozen forest fruits from LIDL (See I’m not a LIDL basher, I just think a lot of expats are too reliant on it, so miss out on the best that Cyprus has to offer!).
The best thing too is if you buy home grown, locally sourced fruit and vegetables, the difference in taste is incredible. Who knew the humble celery could taste so good?! Oranges that taste like sunshine, lemons that are zingy and zesty (for your G&T), and strawberries when in season that could make your heart sing. And of course Cyprus is renowned for it’s potatoes grown in the red soil villages in the East of the island – Spud U Like? More like Spuds I Love! Happy shopping!
Love from Nelly x