Now I know there are people who come here for lofty meditations and skiey verse, or I like to think there might be, but owing to the absurd exigencies of Nablopomo, and submitting to an odd and largely pointless bet that you can't post every day, I find I am descending from the sublime to the ridiculous and blogging for a whole weekend on the subjects of Lidl supermarkets and stock cubes. The scary thing is I seem to be getting quite a bit of response...
The above are, as is somewhat bleeding obvious, Bovril cubes, the top layer of a year's supply thereof. I do not actually use these much for cooking, as they have all the subtlety of a charge from the hitherto placid Bull no 4019. However, a cube a day every day, wherever we may be, is required for Tom's elevenses. I think perhaps in a past life he may have been some crusty old colonial type who travelled the oceans Port Out Starboard Home, sipping at beef tea mid-morning and playing deck quoits, and he still carries the vestiges of this existence in a taste for Bovril, and occasional crustiness, no sign of an urge to play deck quoits. Maybe I'll win a Nablopomo prize for blogging every day which will be a free session of Past Life Regression Therapy which I could offer to him to get to the bottom of it.
We used to ask people coming and going to bring us the odd packet of Bovril, and kept going quite well like that, but then one dark night it happened, and we were nearly out of it with ne'ry a cross channel tripper in sight, so I did something I've never resorted to before and looked up a business that fulfilled the gastronomic longings of pining British expatriates, and ordered a large quantity.
While on stock cubes, Plutarch very graciously ate a helping of humble pie in the comments to the last post and admitted that he had given in to their siren call since questioning my use of them in the making of cock-a-leekie soup. The link to that post, as Zephyr asked for it, is here.
I sometimes wonder if I oughtn't to have a tag on this blog for Lidl, I seem to mention it so often, but that would just seem a step too sad. But the eminent Europhile and globe trotter Barrett Bonden has remarked on my lack of inhibition in admitting that I shop there.
So I feel bound now, (and because I can't be bothered to post about anything serious), to launch into an ode to the joy of this pan-European phenomenon. Now I know their standard issue architecture, an unlovely combo of big-shed and Fisher-Price, which is presumably manufactured and sent out on lorries all over this continent and its fringes from the outskirts of somewhere like Wuppertal (apologies to any Wuppertalian readers...), is something of an eyesore in and around our towns, and I know that they keep everything cheap by employing a maximum of two staff per store, so that going through the checkout there is like some bad dream or ghastly game show where you're having to dive to catch the products as they are fired through at great speed before they hit the floor, and I know that 'after-sales service' is not a concept that occurrs in their mission statement, but withal, I am very fond of Lidl.
I never actually set foot in one when I lived in the UK, and not for a long time after I came here, but once I had, I saw the point. I don't know how much there stuff varies from country to country - another thing that amuses me about them is they never seem quite sure what language they should put on the packaging.
Here are a few things you can find there:
Free range French Label Rouge chickens, a good two or three euros cheaper than anywhere else. (Free range stuff has always been easy to find here, forget animal welfare, think taste, this is France...)
Reasonable Basmati and Thai Jasmine rice.
Consistently good aubergines, and mushrooms.
Lubeck marzipan, chocolate covered.
Japanese rice crackers.
Fruit and nut chocolate quite as good as Cadbury's. (I was going to scan that too, as well as the stock cubes, but thought I'd better stop somewhere. I regretted not having any of their jamjar lids about, which are printed all over with big bold colourful designs of the fruit. Scanner art nouvelle vague, Marja-Leena eat your heart out!)
Guest ranges of 'exotics', such as bagels, English mustard, unsalted cashews and pecans, Spanish big white beans in jars, oyster sauce...
Fleecy sweaters, thick socks, big packs of delicious coloured paper and card complete with cutting board and scalpel with spare blade, the wool for my pompom shawl.
The wine range may not quite be what you'd serve if you had Plutarch coming for lunch, though the Alsace Gewurztraminer isn't bad, but they do a white port which is an acceptable alternative to sherry (unobtainable) of a Sunday lunchtime, a whisky cream liqueur that is pretty well indistinguishable from Bailey's and half the price, and vodka and gin which are very useful for the making of sloe gin, schnapps and other infusions.
Now I'm hoping to receive a Lidl gift voucher for this piece of fawning publicity. I heard about someone the other day who got a thank you e-mail from Appletise for mentioning them in a blog post, so it's not impossible...
Apologies for not getting around much today. I did put my nose outside the door, but also was rather involved selecting photos for what seems a very interesting offer from Vistaprint for make-your-own calendars. I haven't checked exactly what the terms are, and I don't yet know what the software's like, but it seems worth a look.
This seems to have turned into a consumer blog...