Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Moving Country: What do you miss when you're away?

"You've got to watch the meat," she warned me. "Spanish meat is a bit funny."

I was on a flight to Mallorca. This was it. I had no return ticket or any intention of getting one. I was heading to my new home. Beside me were two young women who were going to the the island to work as night club promoters in Magaluf for the summer. It was 9.00 in the morning and they were already on the booze. Between their alcohol intake and my excitement we'd struck up a conversation.

"When we're there we survive on pasta," her friend went on. 

I nodded and pretended to be on the same wavelength. The truth was, I wasn't at all concerned about the meat in Spain. When I thought of Spanish meat, I thought of tender lamb chops on the barbeque and peppery sausages.  Growing up, my Mum only visited the butcher when were in Spain. Lately my Dad had started bringing over packets of the finest cured ham, Jamon de Bellota, to London. Now I was moving, he wouldn't need to do that any more. 

"It gets cold too around October," the girls said. "We had to wrap ourselves in towels last year."

My eyes widened in sympathy, but really I was wondering why they hadn't bought a blanket. Spain might not have meat to their taste, but it definitely had lots of shops!

It's been over a year since I moved and for the first time I woke up the other day and I wished it would rain. I wanted it be cloudy, rainy and cold. Ha, I thought, Mallorca has finally cracked me. But to be honest the feeling didn't last. I wouldn't give up this sunshine without a fight!

I bet lots of Brits abroad miss the taste of British milk and butter. However I've been coming back and forward to Spain all my life and have got used to the flavour of their milk. As for butter, I haven't eaten much of it in years. I'm happy rubbing tomato, oil and salt on my bread. In Catalunya they call it pa amb tomaquet, in Mallorcan pamboli.

I miss ginger beer. Yep, Enid Blyton would understand. I bought some rum for a party the other day and suddenly craved the fresh taste of ginger beer and rum mixed together with lime. It was one of my favourite drinks in England. Here, the option is coca cola, and I hate mixing drinks with coke because in the end it just tastes like coke.

And other than food and drink?

Boots. I miss Boots. Not the shoes, but the shop. In Boots everything you could ever want is on display. Over here, you have to go to the pharmacy and ask for everything over the counter. What can I say? I get embarrassed easily. I love the anonymity of Boots.  Plus medicine and vitamins here are a lot more expensive.

Among the cast of characters in the new novel I'm working on is a retired British couple. They are facing the challenge of life in a new country with varying degrees of enthusiasm. It got me thinking...  

BACON! Sorry. I forgot about that one. Britain does the best smoked bacon. Once my relatives brought serrano ham to England, now they bring British bacon to Spain. I didn't predict that one!

What do you miss when you are away?

N.B. To friends and family, don't be offended, obviously I miss you a bit!

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