Well, back from holiday - er, my long working trip - and back to reality. The odd thing is that there doesn’t seem like there’s a credit crunch in Argentina. It’s sunny all the time for a start which always helps but it’s mainly that the Argentinians are so used to economic crisis they behave exactly as normal in any downturn. One woman I spoke to said that so many people had been stung in 1991 when the government devalued the peso (now 5 to the pound) and restricted access to their accounts that they are no longer prepared to entrust the banks with their savings. If they have money they spend it. Sound familiar?
What else have I learnt (apart from how to judge a good Malbec)? That frugality is relative. Whatever you have in abundance and on your doorstep is cheap. In the Argentinians’ case that’s beef, corn and wonderful fruit and vegetables. I didn’t have to go there to find that out of course but it’s a lesson we tend to overlook.
While I was away some of my students were posting on the Beyond Baked Beans page on Facebook that cucumbers had gone up to £1.20. (I checked and it was actually worse still - £1.28) Simple lesson - don’t buy cucumber at this time of year. It has to be imported and it’s pricey. Also it doesn’t excite people the way that more popular ingredients such as strawberries and tomatoes do so it’s never going to be discounted.
If you live in the country there’s a chance that local food like game and locally grown vegetables will be relatively inexpensive. In town you’re more likely to pay less for herbs and spices. We’ve got so used to gratifying each and every culinary whim) that we decide what to make before we go shopping and actually see what’s cheap. It should be the other way round.
Anyway enough of these jet-lagged ramblings. The urgent need is to shed the 3 kilos or so I must have put on while I’m away without making myself utterly miserable. Quitting the Malbec habit for a week or two will certainly help. Any other tips?