Wednesday, 23 February 2011
In case anyone thinks this is a travel blog from the past, I thought I would confuse you and add a current post.
It's linked to one on my other blog, a Thai curry recipe, but merits a tale in itself. And it means the other post isn't too long.
The first time I decided to make the Thai green curry I dutifully bought all my ingredients from the supermarket, knowing, apart from anything else that they sold limes and cilantro (fresh coriander). I bought one of those little pot things of cilantro that costs nearly a quid. The alternative is the cling-film wrapped stuff in a plastic tray that provides slightly more and costs nearly two quid.
But the next time I had decided I was going to cook it, there was no cilantro in the sm. I was devastated. I had bought all the ingredients but lacked the essential cilantro. I couldn't possibly change what I was going to cook as I had set my mind (and tastebuds and stomach) on Thai green curry for tea. It's easy and tasty.
I decided to try the market. Nope. In fact they hardly had anything. It was nearly ten o'clock and they were still unloading the veg boxes. I find this very hard to cope with as I worked on the market for years, and we were invariably ready to serve before 8am.
So I rejoined Partner who was waiting for me outside the paint shop where he had been pricing some stuff.
Inspiration hit me. Of course! The Moroccan veg shop a few doors up. I went inside and spotted the hugest box of the freshest greenest cilantro ever. Excellent.
'Pon me cilantro,' I said imperiously, in a very Spanish fashion and despite the fact that I was standing right next to the box.
How much did I want? I didn't know, that was why I asked him to pick it for me. I didn't know how much your average person bought, or how they sold it, or how much it cost etc etc.
So he picked up a huge bunch, and I said 'Basta!' In fact, it was more than enough. And how much was it? - 70p. Less than the price of a measly growing herb pot thing from the sm.
It did me for loads of meals, two Thai curries and other stuff as well. So the other day when I wanted some, off I tripped to the Moroccan shop. No joy. It was coming in the next day. The next day I went - but far too early. It was coming in later. I decided to give him a bit of space, so skipped a day and went yesterday. 'All gone,' he said.
Damn and blast!! I bet it never came in at all. How can a huge box of cilantro go in one day? When was it coming in again? Today? Tomorrow? He shrugged. No, it had come in on Monday and that seemed to be the end of it.
But I am not easily defeated. Off I went on an expedition to check out all the other Moroccan shops in Gibraltar. I WOULD find some cilantro.
There was none in the first shop I tried. I came back on myself in a loop and went to the one I had avoided because they usually rip me off in there. Yes, he had some. 'One pound.' For a bunch half the size of the one that had cost me 70p a couple of weeks ago. 'That's far too much,' I said snootily, and walked out.
Off to another shop which I used to use quite regularly at one point. But always best to change your shops because people seem to take you for granted and think you spend too much money.
'Cilantro tiene?' I asked yet again. Yes, he had some too. 'One pound fifty.' At this rate, the next shop will be charging me two quid. Perhaps I could get the price up to a fiver if I found enough Moroccan shops.
I said that was really far too much (in both cost and amount of cilantro, although clearly if it had been cheap enough I would have taken the lot) and could I please have less.
He gave me a small bunch. 'Perfecto. Cuanto vale?'
'Chin,' he said. Chin, I thought. Chin, what on earth does he mean? We aren't toasting each other chin-chin here.
I got it. It must be short for cincuenta, ie 50p. Well, that was the cheapest so far, even though it wasn't a huge bunch.
I counted out two twenties and a ten.
'CHIN! CHIN!' he shouted at me. I gazed at him like the tonta guiri I was.
He patiently took the two twenties and gave them back to me.
'No entiende chin? ' or 'You no know chin?' don't remember which language it was in at this point.
It was clearly a local or Moroccan colloquialism for a coin. He pointed to it. Perhaps it was to do with the picture of the queen's chin?
He pointed to the figure ten. 'Chin,' he said again proudly. 'Chin p'.
I finally got it. Ten p.
Not bad value though.