Previously on Happiness Stan…
I went to the butchers and they were slightly annoying.
So a month or so ago we set off shopping, but decided to explore the more rural parts, south of where we live, looking for somewhere different to acquire some bacon and eggs.
We ended up in deepest darkest Surrey (about 5 miles from home).
Here the locals speak in strange dialects, and wild pigs forage for truffles (this may or may not be true, the shop staff we spoke to didn’t have strange dialects, although that might have been because they weren’t local – they could have been bused in from Northern France – and I didn’t spot any pigs, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there, hiding their truffles).
Deepest, darkest Surrey…
So we ended up at the Flower Farm Shop. A stone’s throw from the lovely M25. Not expecting much we piled inside. I noticed some enormous pumpkins (this was a few weeks before Halloween) and thought ‘You don’t see beauties like those at Tesco’.
And what a cornucopia of delights we did find. The vegetables were all enormous. I think our brains are conditioned to regard supermarket vegetables as being ‘normal’. They aren’t normal. In a supermarket vegetables are unfailingly the same shape and the same size. Medium size.
You don’t see a misshapen pepper. Or a wonky mushroom. No freaked out leeks. But in this farm shop it was like the onions had been fed steroids (shit maybe they had been, didn’t think of that), the eggs had been laid by dinosaurs.
But we weren’t here for vegetables. We were here for meat. And meat is what we got:
Back home we studied our wares – super thick pork chops, thick back bacon, sausages, black pudding, garlic, onions, apples, a parsnip (that one parsnip is bigger than a pre-bagged selection from the supermarket), and horseradish; I’ve been looking for fresh horseradish for ages.
A rather eclectic selection, but we we got to work. Cooked breakfast all round. Now this is what the older folk might refer to as a breakfast that ‘sets in’, to paraphrase Uncle Monty, from the classic film ‘Withnail & I’ (If you don’t know the film, watch it)..
“Oh my boys, my boys, we are at the end of an age! We live in a land of weather forecasts and breakfasts that set in, shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour, and here we are, we three; perhaps the last island of beauty… in the world”
The tomatoes were a sad attempt at one of our five-a-day…
I returned shortly after to the Farm Shop. And I will be going back again. Not because its got amazing things to eat in it. No. Because its cheap. I mean that lot right there cost £15. You wouldn’t get that from Tesco, or anywhere else, for £15.
Supermarket shopping is big news in the UK at the moment. The old stalwarts (Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Asda) are getting nicely kicked by some German upstarts (Lidl, Aldi) which are basically charging less for the same quality things. The British are starting to stick two fingers up at ‘loyalty’cards, indifferent customer service and irritating product offers and making the logical choice of buying the things they want at the lowest price.
Personally I would recommend hunting down your local farm shop for things that aren’t prepacked or tinned – i.e. fresh. Not some gentrified artisinal bullshit but a cheap and cheerful local farm shop! Good luck.