Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Proper bread

Set in a fictitious working class suburb of Manchester, England, "Coronation Street" is the world's longest running TV soap opera.

Ken Barlow appeared in the very first episode in 1960 and the actor who plays him, Bill Roache, remains perennially youthful at the age of 82 despite having been caught up in the dragnet of British 60s/70s celebrities accused of sex crimes and acquitted.

The fourth of Ken's wives, Deirdre, has been in the Street since the early 70s and still is despite the fact the actress who plays her is dead. This is because Deirdre remains "away" sine die. You know, in that way soap characters go "away" at short notice to impossibly remote places like Scotland or sometimes even (shivers!) countries in continental Europe like Spain where, apparently, there are no telecommunications, low-cost airlines or even postal services allowing them to communicate with back home as if they were jihadis who'd gone to join IS.

Anyway, in what proved to be one of her latter appearances in the Street last year, Deirdre and Ken were on a caravanning holiday. Deirdre (but not Ken) is a townie uncomfortable in the country and is on the phone to her daughter, Tracy, back home in Weatherfield when she delivers one of the best comic lines in the history of soap:

Your dad's gone to the farm to get fresh milk. I don't know why he bothered - I told him they've got proper milk at the petrol station down the road!

That's all by way of a very long introduction to the fact that we've now got proper bread on Flores. You know, the sort that's already sliced and in a plastic bag and you buy in a supermarket instead of that awful rubbish you have to buy in a baker's and cut yourself.

I don't know if there's an equivalent expression in Portuguese (a melhor coisa desde pao laminado?) but in British English we talk about "the greatest thing since sliced bread" (as in "my mother thinks my brother's new girlfriend is the greatest thing since ..."). Well, we're currently living that moment on Flores - experiencing the arrival of something eponymously that good!

Anyway, the bread in question is imported from a Spanish company called BIMBO. Now I'm not some kind of namby pamby, hoity toity, la-di-dah, raggety arsed faggot of a lefty liberal tree hugger by a long shot but even I feel a tad queasy about the food miles involved in having beans (did I mention they've also got "proper beans" made by Heinz here as well now?) on toast baked in Barcelona of all the bloody places! Delicious though they may be.

The outermost ripples of globalisation are well and truly lapping on the shores of Flores but I'm often asked by tourists why you can't buy fresh locally grown vegetables in the shops here. The answer is, I think, that plenty of stuff is grown here: it just doesn't get into the shops because it's used at home by the people who planted it. The food economy has sort of skipped a generation (or two) and is presently sitting at an uneasy cross-roads between grow your own and import it from Barcelona.

Ken Barlow would understand. Deirdre wouldn't. Not sure I do. But I think these guys know the answer:-



Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable blog Neil, just discovered it and it's great to catch up on Flores as I visited in 1991. Here in Orkney 2000 miles or so to your North East we've got the same food nonsense - Japanese fish mince 'crab sticks' with fluorescent pink sides in the shops and we're surrounded by some of the most prolific shellfishing grounds in the world! Best wishes and keep up the blogging. Karl Cooper, Orkney

Kathie said...

Why in the name of kittens would anyone want to eat commercial sliced bread schlepped from goodness-knows-where (and therefore full of preservatives so it'll last the trip without turning moldy) when the bakery in Santa Cruz das Flores sells fresh papo secos at such a reasonable price??? We bought a bagful of superb papo secos (the whole-wheat ones were superb!) when we visited last year.

Kathie said...

Supermercado Guarita (HQ'd in São Bento, Terceira, just east of Angra)has launched an effort to have local produce grown to supply its markets:

I gather that eMater (on Terceira, Pico, São Jorge) may do the same (not sure whether it's related to Guarita):