Monday, 13 April 2015

#Healthy inspiration from Barcelona

Taking a break is always a pleasure - and should leave us refreshed and revived. So it's not surprising that a holiday is often a source of inspiration too. Take us out of our comfort zone and we can look with fresh eyes at the world around us - be it filled with natural beauty, cultural delights or stimulating scenery. How often have you come back from a trip feeling stimulated by something you saw or experienced and/or relaxed enough to tackle tasks that seemed daunting beforehand?

This is how I felt when I happened across the magnificent Mercat de Sant Josep on La Rambla in Barcelona. A huge walk-through affair that is a magnet to tourists and locals alike, packed to the rafters with tempting, fresh foods. Stepping across the threshold brought back vague memories of how people used to shop in the UK, before superstores, ready meals and ordering online became the norm. At this market individual traders ply everything from fruit and veg, fresh fish, meat, eggs and dried  mushrooms to sweets treats and baked goods. They call out to you, ready to bargain. You can touch and examine their wares - they expect questions and conversation. It's a feast for the eyes and ears sure - and full of locally-sourced, fresh and nutritious foods. You can even sit down and have some freshly made tapas.

How long is it since you spoke to a fishmonger?

And it hit me that we have become too used to looking at photoshopped images, motivational phrases and hashtags like #eatclean, #weightlossjourney and #fittip when we need a reminder to make healthy lifestyle choices. I remember going grocery shopping with my mum when I was small. She took her own bags (I was always transfixed by the wicker baskets people used) and walked to the green grocers for fruit and veg and another shop for milk and cheese, you bought fish when you were by the harbour and meat came from the butcher's (okay, that just happened to be my Dad!!). Mum made everything from pastry to stock and I (and my brother) stood alongside her learning how to cook. Properly. 

Stopping for a bite to eat

Instead today we have cheap fake foods that never seem to satisfy us, plastic bags littering our streets and 'fresh' foods that have a suspiciously-long shelf life. There's very little joy in food shopping now, and I'm sure I'm not alone in not having a clue what a kilo of carrots or potatoes would look like. Where did it all go wrong? Certainly my parents were no less busy than I am, yet I find myself rushing to the supermarket just before pickup to grab what I need for tea. I don't want to talk to the staff, I want to get in and out with the minimum of effort - and dare I say it - thought!

So, what happens next?

To be fair, I generally cook all my own food from scratch, I grow some veg, and I often go the local farm shop where there's fruit and veg, a butchers and a fishmonger (usually on my way back from the gym, just before polishing my halo!). But despite my upbringing I haven't stepped inside an actual butcher's shop for years. Or voluntarily had a conversation with someone selling me food! The fact that my kids were properly freaked out by the displayed fish and meat at the Spanish market proves that the next generation have lost touch with what food actually looks like before it hits the plate. 

The kids had no problem with the chocolate counter...

Looking around that market reminded me of the all-important relationship you have with food before you cook and eat it. One I need to re-kindle - and encourage my children to form. I hope I have re-ignited a passion within a few readers too!

How do you shop for your groceries? Do you think we need to be more involved as consumers - or is our modern, hands-off approach to food okay? Let me know in the comment box below.


8 comments:

  1. Ah, I love fresh produce like this! I do try and make as much as I can from scratch, but like a lot of people nowadays, we get busy with life and the freezer is sometimes my best friend! I always do a supermarket shop, mostly due to short amount of time it takes having it all under one roof! Lovely to read you had such a great time and that food looks amazing! :)

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    1. Hello! It was fabulous at the market - as was all the food in Barcelona! The sunshine helps I'm sure - I bought some lovely ripe tomatoes while I was there - and they were lovely just cut up on toast! It's easy to let life get in the way I agree - I guess we all need to find a balance - live the 80/20 rule maybe? It's too easy to just reach for packets and ready-made things (they are everywhere!!), and then get used to that way.

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  2. Ah Barcelona! What a great city. I love markets and farmer's markets because you usually get to see the fresh food. We have a market near my house that has a few fishmongers. I love getting the fresh catches!

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    1. I'm going to look out for more when we holiday too - we always go self catering - and often to the seaside so it makes sense. Last year in Cornwall I saw people looking for mussels on the rocks to have for tea.

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  3. I know, I know! I keep meaning to visit our local butcher and market too. It's time really. Online shopping is so damn convenient. Maybe tomorrow I'll make the effort... Barcelona looked like fun!

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    1. Ah, tomorrow...it's my favourite word too!!!! Barcelona was great, can't recommend it enough. A good time to go too I think - before it gets very hot and crowded with the summer crowds. You can walk everywhere too.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your pics of Barcelona. Love the colors! Saw it at the H,H,G, & N Blog Party Hop 62. I shop at a Farmer's Market. In addition, I am grateful our local store, Sprouts has many organic fruits and veggies for sale. That and organic legumes, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains makes up my eating plan. No fish or meat for me. Warm regards, Nancy Andres, Health & Lifestyle Writer, Author of “Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss,” Blogger at http://obloggernewbie.blogspot.com and http://www.nancyandreswriter.com/colors-of-joy-blog/

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    1. Hi Nancy, thanks for commenting. The lovely clear blue sky of Barcelona did make everything look that bit better! It's no surprise their produce is so tempting and tasty!! Sprouts sounds lovely, I'm assuming you're in North America?

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