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The Expat Shopping List

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 1st Apr 2011

There is no use denying it, every expat who has ever lived in Spain has done it.

The Shopping list.

Whenever relatives come over to stay, and make the mistake of letting us know that they have a little spare luggage space, we start to prepare a 'wish list'. Years ago it used to be stuff that you simply could not get here in Spain, but as the years have gone on we are finding that we can do without more and more things, or that more and more English products are slowly become available over here.

ES_Sale 300x250

So as the years have progressed the 'wish list' has gradually become smaller, and there are far fewer 'must-haves' - more often than not it is just stuff from Asda or Tesco, that is about a third of the price in the UK and which I won't justify spending here in Spain.

Marmite, HP Sauce, Mint Sauce, Salad Cream, various curry spices etc...

If there is then any space left a firm favourite is always English cheeses : Shropshire Blue, Wenslydale, Cheshire, Stilton etc.... The Spanish Cheeses just don't do it for me. There are thousands of varieties but somehow I always find them tasting either all the same (usually of wax) or of nothing at all.

Last week my Parents flew over and on top of the usual shopping list I made an order online for some contact lenses, a new charger for my laptop, and some filters for my American-style fridge freezer. My mum quite often likes to improvise with the request list so I never quite know what I am going to end up with.

She called me from Manchester airport, quite indignant that she had been subjected to quite an intensive search in a private room on suspicion of carrying explosives. I'm sure you can picture the scene : the hand luggage containing a transformer and a spool of electrical wiring (my charger) lights up the X-ray machine, and the attendants attention is drawn to the cylindrical object it is sat on top of (the filters). Perhaps more worrying are the collection of square objects with (she was told) a similar density to semtex (the cheese), and half-spherical object located worryingly next to it. Mister Jobsworth on the X-ray has seen enough James Bond films to know that nuclear warheads are almost always half-spherical in shape and so presses the panic button.

You can imagine what comes next...

"Is this your bag madam ?"


"Pack it yourself ?"


"Anybody ask you to bring anything for them ?"

... you see where I'm going with this one ?

So basically the family sized Christmas pudding wasn't one of my Mother's better ideas (especially as I had just stocked up after the local Iceland's New year sale, and currently have the EU christmas pudding mountain under my kitchen sink) - especially when it's not a delicacy traditionally eaten on ides of March.

I'm only thankful that a Christmas pudding wasn't on my shopping list, and was an improvised item, or i'd never be hearing the end of it.

Don't know how I'm going to persuade her to bring the Chainsaw next time, though.

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