Confession time. Last night I had a far from frugal shopping spree - the equivalent of a dieter having a couple of slices of chocolate cake or a teetotaller falling off the wagon. But it's a temptation to which any foodie is prone.
I spent £21.11 ($42.31) at the Bristol Sweet Mart
I'd been looking forward to going there since I found out about it a couple of months ago. Although it sounds like an Asian sweet shop it is in fact a fabulous Aladdins cave of a grocers with every type of herb, pickle and spice you could possibly want.
I went with a purpose which was to stock up on some of the ingredients required to cook from a mouthwatering book called Persia in Peckham, whose recipes I've been meaning to try for a while. But, of course, I couldn't resist the other stuff, most of which was a good deal cheaper than it would have been elsewhere. (But obviously not in the sense that I wouldn't have otherwise bought it)
This is what I brought home: fresh bunches of parsley, coriander and spinach. And basil (only 49p!) Dried limes (one of my favourite seasonings). Tahini, tamarind, harissa, sweet chilli sauce, white kidney beans, a ground coriander and cumin mix, green cardamoms, turmeric, dried mint and dill, barberries from Iran (have always wanted to try them but definitely unnecessary), a chai tea mix for our eldest daughter, some Hyderabadi mixed pickle for my husband and a pack of cardamom tea for me (Heaven with dark chocolate. I tried it last night)
Now I know that most of this stuff will keep - apart from the fresh herbs - and that it would be ridiculously easy to spend this amount in a high street pizza joint but it isn't frugal by any stretch of the imagination.
What I should have done was go with a shopping list for a specific recipe rather than try to source any ingredient I might possibly need. And not go shopping when I was hungry - always a mistake.
Still, some exotic meals to come, hopefully. Will let you know how I get on.
ps If you want to be tempted too the Bristol Street Mart is at 78-82 St Mark's Road in Easton. Apparently Ainsley Harriott went there the other day, the owner told me proudly!